How Obama Reset His Campaign
I don’t know about any of you, but President Obama’s debate performance Wednesday night was jaw droppingly awful. He stood there like a stick and just let Romney overrun him with lies and distortions. Whatever the reason - being overcoached, surprised and unable to pivot off the new and improved Romney being unveiled before his eyes - it simply cannot happen again. He must also swing back and refuse Romney’s lies, which he has already begun to do. A piece in POLITICO is a nice account of how Obama got the wakeup call:
Like he does almost every time something goes wrong, Obama eschewed the mea culpas — he’s not big on apologies in front of his staff — and shut down to think things over with the adviser whose company he values most in times of trouble: himself.
At first, Obama didn’t think his performance was a complete disaster. But he began Thursday morning by watching excerpts of his own performance and was especially struck by his own tentative, grim demeanor — especially when he and a more relaxed Mitt Romney were broadcast in split-screen. It was worse than he thought, according to one person close to the situation. He was subdued but positive on a conference call with staff.
He huddled with his inner circle — David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Anita Dunn, Ron Klain and Jim Messina — and settled on the theme they hammered all of Thursday — a direct attack on Romney that accused him of out-and-out lying on his tax-cut claims and portrayed the former Massachusetts governor as a two-faced imposter willing to say anything to win.
Hours after arguably the worst debate performance of his career, Obama charged that Romney is a different man than the guy he faced Wednesday. But it was the president who seemed to be a totally different guy on Thursday. Gone was the distracted, deer-in-headlights mumbler. In his place, suddenly, was someone doing a pretty good impersonation of Obama ‘08.
‘I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney,’ Obama said hours earlier at the Denver rally. ‘But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. But the fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.’
That might be true, but Obama will have to face that fellow again in less than two weeks at a town hall debate in Long Island, N.Y. And Romney’s performance has left real doubts, from Obama on down, about the president’s capacity to rack up a victory big enough to erase the memory of Wednesday’s defeat. (my emphasis)
If Thursday’s Obama performance was any indication, he’s more likely to compensate for his shortcomings outside the debate hall — at rallies that fire up a base that had been less than enthusiastic earlier in the year and more recently has been inclined to believe he will trounce Romney.
‘It’s not a positive by any means,’ an Obama aide said. ‘But for our supporters, the debate was sort of helpful because they have assumed the race was locked up. It isn’t. But that message hasn’t been getting through. This might scare them.’