There's a different format for the debate tonight. They wanted more "depth." So they're going to separate the 90 minutes into six segments around the subject of domestic policy. The next debate may be the more interesting one, since it will use a "Town Hall" style format in which the audience asks the questions.
For those who haven't made up their minds already in the campaign, I'd be interested in hearing the areas in which you may be conflicted.
Jim Lehrer is warming up the crowd. Nobody can warm up a crowd like Jim Lehrer.
So 40% of those answering the poll (so far) say they have not already made up their minds. Tell us more.
"Let's have a terrific evening for all of you and our country," Lehrer says just before going live.
Three of the segments tonight will be the economy... one on health care
First question on economy. Two entire rows of the bingo card are now worthless.
Obama plays the "it's our anniversary" card first, then notes again that four years ago the country was in the worst economic situation. The question here tonight is not "where we've been, it's where we're going," attempting to take the "are you better off question" off the table. But Romney had already adjusted that question to "do you want to have four more years of this?"
BO: Do we embrace a new "economic patriotism?" He's used that phrase a few times and never really explained it.
Romney is first to relate a person's story... "a woman came up to me with a baby in her arms and said her husband just lost job, can you help." It's goingto take a different path, not the one we've been on. That's a left hook (or is it a right hook?) that lands, making it about real people not theory.
Romney: The president has a view similar to when he ran four years ago, bigger government, taxing more.... that's not the right answer for America.
QUESTION: To Obama: Please respond...
Obama: We've got to improve our education system.
People are asking Politifact to check if it's REALLY the Obamas anniversary. C'mon, people.
Let the record show, Romney is looking at Obama. I mention that only because I read a piece this week predicting that he, like McCain in '08, wouldn't look at Obama.... insinuating it was a racial thing.
Romney goes with the "gas prices have doubled under the president." This is nonsense I've written about numerous times. It compares the gas prices on the day he took office, which wer elow because the economy had collapsed. But they'd been high several months earlier. This is a politician assuming people aren't interested in examining issues of supply and demand. And for the most part, they're right. They won't.
Romney embraces coal. "clean coal," he says, which is an oxymoron but it sells.
Obama defends tax cuts. "They can buy a car...or a computer for their kid, which means people can have jobs."
Romney responds with heavy jabs, saying Obama's assessment of his economic plan isn't true. "I will not raise taxes on middle income taxes; I will lower them." Says he saw a study sayiing, "you're going to raise taxes by 3 or 4 thousand dollars." Suggests too many 'studies' being "thrown out there."
If you're playing the bingo card, go ahead and check the box about making a point with a closed hand, thumbs up.
Obama: He's saying that his big, bold idea is 'never mind.' Still says it's not possible for Romney to provide tax cuts without affecting the deficit.
Obama: "Donald Trump is a small business; that's how you define small business (he says to Romney". The only way to pay for it is to make drastic cuts in things like education, investing in science and research. That would be a mistake.
Romney tries to respond and Lehrer says "we're way over our 15 minutes." This is when moderators should be quiet.
Romney again cites a real person (allegedly) who runs a small business. This is a very good strategy to put a virtual face on the political points.