Who Won the Presidential Debate? Patch Live Chat Recap

Local Democrats and Republicans across Massachusetts discussed Wednesday night's Obama-Romney debate in a live chat on Patch.

In the first presidential debate from Denver, President Barack Obama came out flat while Gov. Mitt Romney had some effective arguments, according to local Democrats and Republicans from across Massachusetts who joined in a Patch live chat during the debate on Tuesday night.

"Overall, tie goes to Obama," said Democrat Alex Buck. "Romney had a couple good lines, but nothing hugely productive. He looked jittery and possibly his most memorable line was about Big Bird."

Reader (and Governor's Council candidate) Tom Sheff added late in the debate, "No defining moment so far, that's for sure."

As the debate opened on the economy, Romney took an early upper hand according to both the Democrats and Republicans who joined the chat as panelists.

"President seemed nervous, and missed the mark on a direct answer to the jobs question," Democrat Mike Festa said.

Democrat Buck argued that Romney's use of the term "'economy tax' misses the key component of being easy to understand."

As Obama spoke about middle-class tax cuts under his administration, Republicans pushed back by pointing to the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare. 

"Obama says he cut taxes, but Obamacare added all kinds of taxes," said Republican Patty Locke.

Rosemary Smedile referenced the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the individual mandate included in the Affordable Care Act: "Obamacare is a tax according to the Supreme Court, Mr. President."

Romney's line on the deficit—"I think it's a moral issue"—drew applause from a GOP crowd and shouts of "Yay Mitt!" at a Republican debate viewing party in Newton, according to Patch editor Chris Helms. 

Buck agreed that calling the deficit a moral issue "was a good line," but added, "Should *not* have mentioned Big Bird."

As the candidates debated the economy, Lizbeth DeSelm, a liberal-libertarian, argued, "Our economy is consumer based. It is a vicious cycle. We need more jobs, to buy more things, to increase more revenue and manufacturing, which will then create more jobs. It take money to make money doesn't it?"

Jumping off an Obama line about Romney not endorsing a plan exchanging $10 in spending cuts for $1 in revenue, Patch ran an unscientific poll asking panelists and readers participating in the live chat, "Would you trade $10 worth of cuts for $1 worth of additional taxes/revenue?" Sixty-three percent said "yes," 23 percent said "no" and 14 percent said "unsure."


As the candidates moved onto entitlements, DeSelm said, "I'd like to point out that a huge number of people on government support of some sort or another are those who served our country in the Armed Services. We have to keep that in mind when we talk about removing 'entitlements.'"

Obama started to gain some momentum according to Democrats when speaking about entitlements. Festa said, "Obama's balanced approach is compelling ... classroom example too"

Patch editor Melanie Graham reported that Romney saying that 42 percent of the Spanish economy is spent on government and "I don't want to go down the path to Spain" drew some groans here at a Newton Democrats' debate viewing party.

Democrat Shawn Fitzgibbons questioned the wisdom of Obama using the term "entitlements."

"'Entitlements'—things that you are OWED because you BOUGHT them," he said. "Bad term. A Republican one. You put money in to receive a benefit later—you own the benefit. It's not a handout."

Festa also questioned Obama not drawing a clearer distinction between his approach and Romney's approach to Social Security.

"Obama: security differences with Romney not big ... does that help Romney?" he asked, adding that Obama's family story was "too long."

As the candidates debated Medicare, DeSelm said that the $716 billion from the program that Obama described as "savings" in Obamacare and Romney described as a "cut" is the "exact same as in the (Republican Vice President candidate Paul) Ryan budget."

Festa called Romney's Medicare argument "weak" and liked Obama embracing the term "Obamacare."

"Romney: Medicare choices for younger is good competition ... Obama retort on admin costs excellent," Festa said.

Regulation and Obamacare

On the topic of regulation, DeSelm said, "I would like Romney to give an instance of where regulation is needed, where it isn't and where it is outdated."

Patch editor Melanie Graham reported that Democrats at the viewing party in Newton were "shushing Romney as he jumps in," quoting, "He's so rude!" In the live chat, Democrat Jeremy J. Comeau used the same characterization.

"Romney is quite rude!" he said. "There is a moderator for a reason. If you want more time spend your own money on ads!"

However, Festa gave Romney points for his comments on big banks and his argument about Obamacare.

"Romney says repeal ... can't afford it. Overall effective attack," he said.

Patch editor Chris Helms reported that after Obama said "[Obamacare] doesn't have the government take over health care," a room-full of GOP watchers in Newton replied, "Yes, it does." 

Fitzgibbons took issue with Romney's characterization of Obamacare being pushed through Congress without any bipartisan support, saying, "It's Obama's fault that no Republicans voted for HCR?"

Newton Democrats groaned "Oh please," in response to Romney talking about working across the aisle, according to Patch's Graham.

Democrat Etta Goodstein added, "Romney's characterization of this state's health care bill that passed under his watch? He is not mentioning the real reasons that it happened ... the free care pool was driving costs of delivery too high to be absorbed."

In another quick hit unscientific poll of panelists and readers in the live chat, Patch asked, "What do you think about Obamacare?" Twenty-seven percent voted "keep in place as-is;" 46 percent voted "keep most in place, but still needs work;" 23 percent voted "Repeal the whole thing and replace from scratch;" and 4 percent voted "Repeal and don't replace it with anything." 

Asked to give letter grades to the candidates' closing arguments, Obama received mostly B's and a few C's, while Romney received similar grades.

Festa said, "Romney's closing was more disciplined, but not great either," while Buck added about Romney's closing argument, which he gave a B+, "Content strong, finally looking at camera, cohesive, but he just can't get inspirational."

At least one reader was convinced by the debate. Jonathan Craven wrote, "My vote has been swayed, I will now vote for Romney."

What did you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

Dennis O'Donnell October 04, 2012 at 05:49 AM
The President seem flustered from the refuting of the $5 trillion claim and never recovered. Romney gets an A, Obama, a C-. Jim Lehrer? You take a Z.
Isabella Jancourtz October 04, 2012 at 09:14 AM
Way too boring. Including third party candidates would make for better debates. A stronger moderator would have helped.
Evan Walsh October 04, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Romney was on offense all night long, looking strong. The President stumbled more than once and came across tired and weak.
Michael Fleming October 04, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Obama clearly thought just showing up was enough. ("What? Doesn't everyone still love me? I have a Nobel Prize ya know!") and Romney was prepared and loaded for bear. Even the the doofuses on CNN and MSNBC saw the empty suit that they used to get tingles over, get walked on. You can hear the outraged sputtering from here, can't you? I wonder if they will continue to use John Kerry as Mitts surrogate for future debate preparations? Gosh...I hope so. And no teleprompters means no "elloquence" either. And did you see his hands shaking? Without a doubt, Mitt showed up and Obama phoned it in. NOW the American public will be able to see the man that OUGHT to be the president without the outrageous lies and claims the left is trying to paint him with. Go Mitt!
Poppaone October 04, 2012 at 04:51 PM
With this debate, with no main stream media to protect him, Obama was exposed as a fraud, an empty suit (just like the empty chair analogy), and clueless. He could not fight back because he has no tools - the economy is still in shambles, his foreign policy is a joke, his energy policy is laughable (picking winners and losers - mainly losers), his promised transparency missing in action, and his unwillingness to be bi-partisan all his pre-election promises of hope and change were empty and shallow, like the man himself.


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