Local experts weigh in on presidential debate
Posted: 10/04/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Tim Vandenack
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In a photo combo, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama speak during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Goldman/Eric Gay)
• Elizabeth Bennion, political scientist at Indiana University South Bend: “I think we saw that the president was calm and composed,” as would be expected by someone leading in the polls, she said.
Romney, by contrast, “was on the attack, much more aggressive,” as would befit someone trailing in the polls looking to close the gap. The aggressiveness showed in Romney’s “forceful” manner, speaking over debate moderator Jim Lehrer at times.
She doesn’t expect a dramatic change in voter preferences based on the debate.
• Sean Savage, political scientist at Saint Mary’s College: “Expectations were high for Mitt Romney and he at least modestly satisfied them in making himself better known to less attentive, undecided voters and in clearly explaining and defending his economic policy proposals,” he said. “However, he did not deliver any rhetorical damage to Obama or generate any ‘game changing’ themes for the rest of the campaign.”
Savage seized on Romney’s five-point economic plan. Specifying the plan was potentially “the best thing” he could have done in trying to win undecided voters to his side.
No big winner stuck out. Two-thirds way through, both candidates “are articulate, self-confident, and polished. There have been no gaffes or zingers,” he said. Obama, he added, “seems calm, self-confident, and unflappable.”
• Brian Howey, Howey Politics Indiana: The apparent middle ground, areas of agreement the two candidates cited, stuck out for Howey. He liked the debate format, the free-flowing back and forth, and the fact that the tone stuck to relevant issues, not attacks.
“Nobody got in a zinger. I thought it was on an elevated plane,” he said.