By Bill Scher
October 4, 2012 - 7:47am ET
MORNING MESSAGE: The Etch-A-Sketch Debate
OurFuture.org's Robert Borosage: "The evening featured another remarkable shifting of shape, a new etch a sketch, by Mitt Romney. Romney, filled with earnest intensity, simply walked away from much of his campaign to date. Ignore the centerpiece of his platform – his plan to cut tax rates by 20%, eliminate the estate and gift tax, sustain the carried interest and capital gains tax breaks, paid for by eliminating unspecified loopholes ... Regulation is 'essential,' but just not Dodd-Frank ... Romney’s for covering pre-existing conditions, letting kids stay on their parents’ health care plans, aiding seniors with the cost of prescription drugs and every other thing that polls well – just not for Obamacare ... He’ll pitch it flat, and pitch it sharp. He’ll paint it black and peddle it white. He’s a true conservative on Monday, a raging moderate today, an enlightened reformer on Wednesday."
Romney Lies A Lot
Krugman slams Romney's dishonesty: "...everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie ... enough with the theater criticism; Romney needs to be held accountable for dishonesty on a huge scale."
TNR's Jonathan Cohn lists "The Four Most Misleading Moments in Romney's Debate Performance": "President Obama repeatedly described Romney’s tax plan as a $5 trillion tax plan. Romney repeatedly took exception. The figure is correct ... Romney has said he would offset those cuts by closing loopholes. The Tax Policy Center has analyzed that promise and found that it is mathematically impossible ... Romney outlined his plan for cutting spending [by repealing] the Affordable Care Act ... Repeal it and the deficit goes up ... he’s promised to cap non-defense spending at 16 percent of GDP. And he’s said he won’t touch Social Security. If he walls off Medicare, too, that would mean even sharper cuts across the board ... Non-discretionary defense spending, which 'has averaged 3.9 percent of GDP and never fallen below 3.2 percent,' would fall to 1.7 percent. That’s simply not realistic."
Romney aide concedes health care plan won't cover all with pre-existing conditions as Romney's suggested. TPM: "'With respect to pre-existing conditions, what Governor Romney has said is for those with continuous coverage, he would continue to make sure that they receive their coverage,' said Eric Fehrnstrom, referring to existing laws which require insurance companies to sell coverage to people who already have insurance, or within 90 days of losing their employer coverage. Pressed by TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, Fehrnstrom said those who currently lack coverage because they have pre-existing conditions would need their states to implement their own laws — like Romney’s own Massachusetts health care law — that ban insurance company from discriminating against sick people."
A True Clash of Ideologies
Debate presented stark contrast of ideologies. NYT: "...it was the inevitable culmination of a polarized debate that ultimately spawned the Tea Party backlash against activist government. Mr. Obama has searched for the right blend of policies and messages to diminish antipathy toward government, debt and liberalism. Mr. Romney, while an imperfect messenger from the right, advanced a revision of the Great Society social compact that even President Reagan never could achieve."
But Romney tried to cloak his conservatism, argues Daily Beast's Peter Beinart: "For a year, Romney has tried to run as Reagan. He’s tried to show the Tea Party that he’s as ideologically hostile to government as they are. To impress his party’s right-flank, he even chose Paul Ryan, a man eager for a frontal assault on the most popular aspects of the American safety net. But tonight, Romney ditched that strategy and repeatedly softened the ideological contrasts with Obama. Obama wants to spend more on education. So do I! Obama’s against unaffordable tax cuts for the rich that will increase the deficit? So am I!"
Romney Shoots At ... Big Bird?
Romney pledges to end funding to PBS: "I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually I like you, too. But I'm not going to -- I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for [it]."
Big Birg slam strikes nerve online. CNN: "'Romney,' 'Obama,' and 'debate' were the top three debate-related terms mentioned on Facebook, but the fourth most popular term, 'Big Bird,' is undoubtedly the most unexpected trending word or name that arose from the debates."
Focus Group Indicates No Change In Race
Democracy Corps focus group show no change after debate among swing voters: "While [Romney's'] ballot support grew ... so did Obama's ... all of Romney's gains came from Republican-leaning undecided voters. He did not move a single voter away from Obama."
NYT assesses debate-watching party in OH: "After the debate, the group did not shift their views. 'I don’t know the specifics of these things, so some of it didn’t mean a lot to me,' said Mr. Gardner, the host. 'Like I said before we started, I hate the "I’m going to repeal what you did and do something that’s better!" Who doesn’t want to hear that? Basically nothing changed for me.'"
Romney's win doesn't mean he convinced anyone he fix the economy. W. Post's Greg Sargent: "What remains to be seen is whether he conveyed convincingly and affirmatively enough that his plan would engineer a faster rebound and would strengthen the middle class, at a time when voters are already concluding the groundwork has been laid for recovery. That’s what he really needed to do to alter the basic trajectory of a contest that Obama is currently winning. It was unquestionably a good night for Romney, but it’s unclear whether it will produce the big change he needed."
History suggests nothing will change. American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie: "It’s worth looking back to the 2004 presidential debates. The unanimous opinion was that John Kerry punished George W. Bush. Whereas Bush was churlish, impatient, and aloof, Kerry was dynamic and aggressive. He came away from the debates with momentum and a boost in the polls. Twenty-two days after the final debate, Bush won reelection with 50.7 percent of the vote ... Romney gave a great performance, but there was nothing in his rhetoric that would convince an Obama voter to switch sides."
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