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October 4, 2012
Column #1,623

Why Romney Won the Debate

By Mike McManus

            Romney won the first presidential debate by better than 2-1 according to polls by CBS and CNN (67% Romney to 25% Obama). Why was he so successful?

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, asserted on CNN that Romney “connected to real people’s lives. Obama looked like he didn’t want to be there. Romney seemed like he knew the issues better than Obama.  For example he said there are 47 job training programs in eight agencies.”

James Carville, a Democratic former advisor to President Carter, said the President was “flat and passionless.  He was not prepared.”  For example, to everyone’s surprise, Obama did not bring up the fact that Romney dismissed 47% of the public who believe they are victims” entitled to extensive government support.

The President also exaggerated his victories.  CNN’s Tom Foreman said that Obama’s claim he created 5 million private sector jobs was “false.”  The Bureau of Labor Statistics put the figure at 4.4 million, but noted that 4.3 million were lost during early Obama years, leaving a net gain of only 125,000.

Fox interviewed a number of people who were undecided before the debate. Several liked the way Romney said he “would bring people together to cut the deficit.”

Another praised the former governor for challenging Obama when he disagreed with his statements: “Part of leadership is to be bold. Romney prosecuted the Obama Administration better than Obama defended it.”

One man said, “Obama had to defend a failed record. Romney was clear and decisive. There is a difference between being a leader and a manager.”

However, what I liked was Romney’s ability to summarize the moral dimensions of the issues. For example, he said the federal deficit “is not just an economic issue. It is a moral issue.  It is not moral for my generation to spend more than we take in., and pass the cost onto the next generation – many trillions of dollars.

“The President prefers raising taxes, but that will slow the rate of growth.  I want to lower spending.”  He said his yardstick for deciding which programs to cut is to ask the question, “Is this program so important that I should borrow money from China to pay for it?”

Obama made a strong counterpoint, The Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission recommended a blend of a dollar of tax increases for each three dollars of spending cuts.

By contrast, when Romney was in a Republican debate, the group was asked, if they would accept $1 in revenue increase for $10 in spending cuts. Romney and the others all said no.  

            However, when Obama said his Obamacare plan was based on a model that “worked well in Massachusetts,” Romney noted that he had to work with Democrats to get the law passed, since they are 87% of the Legislature. By contrast, Obamacare was passed with not a single Republican vote. 

            Toward the end of the debate, Romney gestured to words of the Declaration of Independence on the wall behind him, saying his first goal was to “promote and protect the principles of `life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

            “Second, we are endowed by our Creator to have religious freedom in this country. We are blessed and are all children of the same God.” Romney said what that meant to him was that those who have been blessed have a responsibility “to make sure those are less fortunate are cared for.”

            By contrast, he opposed Obama’s “trickle down government,” which has led to “24 million workers without jobs, one person in six in poverty, an increase in the number of food stamp recipients from 32 million to 45 million, and 50% of college graduates can’t find jobs.  It is time for a new path.”

            When Obama quotes the Declaration of Independence in many speeches, he omits the words, “by their Creator.”  And his government is forcing religious employers to pay for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs against their conscience. The President also repeatedly replaced the words “freedom of religion” with much more narrow phrase, “freedom of worship.”

            Romney’s Mormonism has been controversial, and is the subject of the current TIME cover story.  The Mormon church requires its members to tithe 10% of their income. Romney and his wife are generous donors, giving $3 million to charity last year, $1.5 million of which went to the church. He served as a missionary as a young man for two years in France, and rose to oversee all of the Mormon churches in the Boston area, donating 10-20 hours a week.

            His moral values came across powerfully while Obama was mute on such issues.

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