100 Day Sprint: A big night for Mitt Romney

Running out the clock? Barack Obama has a tough night against Mitt Romney. (Photo: Wikipedia)

So I’d say Mitt Romney got a head start on winning the final month of the campaign.  He has a ton of ground to make up, but if he pieces together a lot of performances like tonight, it’ll be competitive.

Romney was clearly having fun, making arguments with passion.  Even in the areas where his numbers will get a tough grade from the fact-checkers, he sounded plausible.

Obama, meanwhile, was running out the clock, trying to avoid major screw-ups, hoping not to appear arrogant.   But the key for a politician is to do those things without appearing to do this things, and hefailed.

Bottom line?  Romney came in hungry, prepared, energetic and he dominated.  Wake-up moment for Team Obama?  Turning point for Team Romney?

Romney will need to translate last night’s win into some clear momentum in states where he is now lagging by 5% or more.

Most important is Ohio where the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has the Republican down 8% among likely voters.

Obama, meanwhile, has some days of damage control ahead, and I suspect that this time he won’t be able to rely on surrogates like Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama to lift the energy level of his campaign.

One final thought:  John Kerry used a big debate night in 2004 to lift himself into serious contention with George Bush.  Romney clearly hoped to do the same.

But as we’ve been reporting, the underlying structural dynamics of this race are very different.  In 2004, Kerry could count reliably on winning 250 electoral college votes.  His challenge was to close the deal in one or two additional states.

In 2012, Romney can only count with absolute certainty on between 180 and 191 electoral college votes.  Even North Carolina remains sort of squidgy (though after last night, I’m guessing it will drift further into Romney’s column).

So Romney has to make closing arguments over the next 30 days in at least a half dozen big and very different states where he currently trails.  Very difficult to do, but last night offered his supporters some hope that it might just be doable.

 

 

 

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139 Responses to “100 Day Sprint: A big night for Mitt Romney”

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  1. Newt says:

    Really pathetic performance by Obama, and prowrestling ref wannabee Jim Leherer. Romney’s performance was brilliant.

    Obama never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

    Did not mention, or at least stress, his saving Detroit when Romney wanted to let it die.

    Did not mention Romney’s stated preference for leaving the mortgage market to crash, burn, and start all over.

    Did not make Romney answer his many contradictions on tax/deficit issues.

    Failed to pick up on effectively the fact that Romney now wants to protect Obamacare, except when he wants to destroy it.

    Failed to ask Romney how many Americans would lose medical coverage under his plan.

    Most of all, failed to clearly say that Romney wants to return to the policies of the G.W. Bush Administration that caused the economic crisis we are now in, and thereby throw the nation back into the pit that he, Obama, has struggled so hard to lead us out of.

    Obama has always been a lousy debater and lousy in one-to-one situations. Stammers and wanders all over the place when not in front of 10,000 partisans.

    How to save it: “I was so startled by Gov. Romney’s contradictions and inconsistencies, I had trouble knowing which one to counter first probably spent to much time running the country, and not enough preparing. Won’t make that mistake again.”

    But, pathetic.

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  2. JDM says:

    You can hope beyond hope that Obama stays on, but I’ll tell you right now, it’s over.

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  3. Larry says:

    The fact checkers will have a field day, as well they should, but the key for me was the difference in the way the two men presented themselves.

    Every time Romney hit the President on an important point Obama lowered his eyes and looked away from the camera. He looked for all the world like an errant schoolboy being lectured by the principal. He looked as if he couldn’t wait to get out of there. He looked guilty.

    Romney, for his part, looked engaged and interested and like he was enjoying himself, maybe even a little too much. When Obama scored points Romney seemed like he was expecting it and was ready with an answer. Romney acted like he knew he was up against a pro who was going to score his points. Obama had the “I can’t believe I have to listen to this” attitude.

    Of course, this is my take on styles and has nothing to do with substance at all. I’m interested in in how pro-Obama people saw it. The American people, particularly when watching Presidential debates on TV, are inordinately influenced by style and appearance. In that context, last night was a big win for Romney.

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  4. mervel says:

    Newt the reason he didn’t make those points is that in large part his policies are the same as Bush and Romney with some minor tweaks on health care.

    The real debates on policies will be held on late October when we see Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, Anderson etc. debate the issues.

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  5. Newt says:

    It’s hardly over (see Brian’s endless, but accurate, discussions of Blue State electoral college throw weight).

    Yes, Romney clearly won on style.

    And, Romney will take your Medicare.

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  6. Newt says:

    Mervel, the differences are substantial, if not nearly what they should have be., between the candiates

    You sound like a Nader supporter circa October, 2000. They also said there was no difference between Bush and Gore, and thereby gave us a President who started out by spending the summer of 2001 cutting brush on his ranch while his anti-terror advisers’ pleas for a meeting went ignored, and who went merrily on from there.

    Obama is far the lesser of two evils.

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  7. Larry says:

    The key difference between the candidates was neatly delineated by Romney, when in response to the query about the role of government, he said:

    “…we also believe in maintaining for individuals the right to pursue their dreams and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals. And what we’re seeing right now is, in my view, a — a trickle-down government approach, which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams. And it’s not working.”

    That’s it, right there. I hope people get it.

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  8. Walker says:

    Larry, you’d have a tough time making a case that “free people pursuing their dreams” has been working in the field of health care.

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  9. JDM says:

    Who’s going to believe the pollsters at this point?

    The king has no clothes.

    It’s over.

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  10. Larry says:

    Take a break, Walker, you can attack me later. I wasn’t talking about whether or not a particular philosophy was working, I was talking about the central difference between the candidates: their take on the role of government. In his response to that question, Obama said:

    “…I also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed.

    Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system and freedom and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions.

    But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off. That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom. That enhances it.

    And so what I’ve tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.”

    So, we clearly have a difference there; whether the government or individuals should take the lead and predominate in the pursuit of our goals. Should there be a collective or individual approach? That’s the issue and the difference between the candidates.

    Walker, as long as you’re being chippy about it, how’s that “frameworks where the American people can succeed” thing working out for the 20+ million unemployed?

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  11. Larry says:

    JDM,
    You’re starting to sound like Brian Mann, calling the result before Election Day. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

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  12. Peter Hahn says:

    Personally, I like Obama’s voice a lot more than Romney’s. When Romney is in high velocity attack mode his voice is too high and un-presidential. Reagan had the best voice.

    It usually takes 3 days for the narrative to set in so we have to wait a couple of days more to see what the polls do.

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  13. JDM says:

    I loved his answer on education,

    “… me and him should have to pay more”

    Oh, wait. I forgot. He was a corpseman from Harvard. That’s how they talk there.

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  14. dbw says:

    I listened to the debate on the radio. Based just on the audio it didn’t sound so lopsided. This one debate is not a real game changer by itself and that is true historically as well. Just ask President Kerry how much his first debate performance in 2004 helped his chances. The underlying dynamic has not changed.

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  15. PNElba says:

    Larry, you’d have a tough time making a case that “free people pursuing their dreams” has been working in the field of health care.

    Take a break, Walker, you can attack me later.

    I have to say this is getting a bit tiresome. Where exactly did Walker attack Larry in the above statement? It’s getting no matter what those darn liberals think or say, it is now viewed as a personal attack.

    I know, I know, more screeching from PNElba.

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  16. Mayflower says:

    Minutes after the debate, I got an email from Obama, saying: “Hey! Hope I made you proud out there explaining the vision we share for this country,” followed by a link for donations.

    I guess he didn’t hear me shouting at his image on the television screen. It seems he was too preoccupied taking careful, professorial notes while his opponent shape-shifted into the man who loves education, the poor and elderly, and who intends no harm to anyone (except Big Bird).

    That said, Obama was no better when he faced Hillary in debate; he is today, as then, polite, detached, moderately annoyed and moderately amused as necessary.

    And then — wait for it — he won the election –decisively — and then went ahead to pass the Affordable Care Act, banking regulations, wind down a couple of wars, and put manufacturing, housing, and employment back on the track of recovery.

    It is sometimes very difficult being a Democrat and being an Obama supporter. Difficult but very necessary.

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  17. Larry says:

    PNElba,
    It was a gratuitous comment that had absolutely nothing to do with the point I was trying to make about the different views of the role of government. I wasn’t trying to make any case about health care. Some people are more intent on “scoring points” then they are on debating issues. Felt like an attack to me, and a cheap one, at that. By the way, it was shrieking.

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  18. Oh yeah. We really need another president who has “style”. Especially one who can’t decide what his position is on anything from one day to the next and whose budget plan involves massive tax cuts, increased military spending, cuts to domestic programs including health, education and infrastructure and paying down the national debt, all this with a balanced annual budget within four years. Oh, I forgot the magic ingredient, consistent 3+% annual growth (also known as “fairy dust”).

    We’ve BTDT guys. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now that the hole we’re in is deeper. Smiles and zingers may make you look good but where the rubber meats the road they don’t cut it. Reagan left us deeper in debt, Bush I left us deeper in debt, Bush II left us teetering on the edge of a bottomless pit. The only people who have significantly benefited from the Republicans’ budgeting are the very wealthy.

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  19. oa says:

    What JDM and Larry say, as always! This thing is over.
    Romney came out swinging in the fight of his political life and landed body-blow zingers with plenty of energy left over to hit a home run that left Obama off-balance, tip-toeing on the sidelines of a fiscal cliff rather than running north and south, which, by the way, Romney did so well that Obama was left on the canvas with blood gushing from his right eye and left nostril.

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  20. Larry says:

    “wind down a couple of wars”

    I can hardly wait to hear Obama talk about his Mid-East policy, presuming of course, that he actually has one.

    “put manufacturing, housing, and employment back on the track of recovery.”

    Four years in and the “track to recovery” looks more like the long and winding road. I wouldn’t brag on that one just yet.

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  21. PNElba says:

    Clearly President Obama got stomped last night. Mitt seemed like he was on meth.

    But, Romney has held every possible position on every possible important political issue. I don’t think that is an opinion, I think it’s a provable fact.

    So here is my question for Romney supporters. How do you know which of his positions to believe? Last night he tried to came off as the type of reasonable Republican we used to have in government. He was Mr. “I love the middle class”. How does this new position fit in with his 47 percent comment he made when only his supporters were listening (he thought) just a couple weeks ago. How does his new love of Romneycare fit in with all his disavowal of Romneycare over the last year? How can he say he isn’t proposing a 5 million dollar tax cut when the math shows that is what a 20% reduction in taxes would cost?

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  22. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Since our “wars” have been mentioned, I really wish the moderator, Mr. Leher, would have asked about the domestic war that seems never ending. Especially since the state of Colorado, where the debate was held, has on its ballot in November an initiative to fully legalize marijuana.

    A good question would have been if the candidates support reclassifying marijuana at the federal level from a Schedule 1 narcotic to that of alcohol and tobacco in order to allow states to move forward unabated and pass their own reforms.

    Since the overall theme of last nights debate was domestic policy, cutting gov’t, the debt, taxes, etc. It seems only logical our decades long “war on drugs,” which is a colossal failure of epic proportions, should have been addressed.

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  23. Larry says:

    “So here is my question for Romney supporters. How do you know which of his positions to believe?”

    I believe in his overall approach: “…we also believe in maintaining for individuals the right to pursue their dreams and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals. And what we’re seeing right now is, in my view, a — a trickle-down government approach, which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams. And it’s not working.”

    You want to have endless debates about how many people are REALLY unemployed or how many dollars the deficit increased? Go for it, but you miss the point: collectivism or individualism…government or people.

    “Clearly President Obama got stomped last night. Mitt seemed like he was on meth.”

    “President Obama” vs. “Mitt”? On meth? Your bias is showing!

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  24. PNElba says:

    I’m very much looking forward to being far more “free” when Romney becomes president. When he does become president in January I will give him the respect of calling him President Romney. I will also be very interested in seeing the new Republican administration using the “real” measurement of unemployment instead of the one that has been used for decades. I also can’t wait for the trickle down from the “job creators” to begin filling my wallet.

    Let’s just hope that Democrats in Congress don’t get together on January 19th and plan how their only job is to insure President Romney is held to a single term of office.

    “Your bias is showing”. That feels like an attack to me (and gratuitous).

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  25. Walker says:

    Larry, you’ve used that “individuals the right to pursue their dreams and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals” a couple of times. I have to ask, in the last four years, where exactly has the government “substituted itself for the rights of free individuals” in your life? I mean, it sounds good, but does it actually mean anything?

    In my life, in the last four years, about the only things that changed that had anything to do with the government has been that my taxes went down. Oh, and I turned 65 and went on medicare, which has saved me $16,000 a year. That’s it.

    How about you? How has the government substituted itself for your rights as a free individual?

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  26. Rancid Crabtree says:

    What I saw was a focused, energetic businessman and an arrogant college lecturer who was completely out of his comfort zone. Romney walked all over Obama. I was not expecting such a rout. Obamas only possible high point was talking about the collapse of traditional Medicare if a voucher system were to implemented. That was it. The rest of the night belonged to Romney.

    I was not a Romney supporter and have reservations regarding him, but I have a lot more confidence in him than in Obama now. Romney is clearly a doer, a hands on type of man that will work with both sides and appears to be far more capable of getting us out of this mess than Obama.

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  27. Larry says:

    PNElba, why wait until Romney is elected to show him respect? How about “Governor Romney” or maybe “Mr. Romney”? “Your bias is showing” may have been an attack; it was certainly meant as criticism. Gratuitous, not so much.

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  28. Kathy says:

    Call it what you want, Romney’s sincerity and leadership came through with flying colors. You can’t fake those qualities. Often, people who have them don’t even know they have them and that’s the beauty of it.

    President Obama lacks both in my opinion. And it shows.

    The American people love ingenuity and fresh ideas. Romney clearly showed he has experience in business and running a state. Sure he isn’t 100% but he’s got some credible successes behind his name. And since I believe sincerity is a vital quality in a man or woman, I believe Romney can right any wrongs and come out on top. The man is approachable; teachable. Obama is not.

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  29. Walker says:

    Larry, us commenters are allowed to have bias. If we weren’t, you’d be in big trouble.

    So how about my question, Larry: how has the government substituted itself for your rights as a free individual?

    Anyone else care to share how the heavy hand of government has trodden on your rights as a free individual since Obama became president?

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  30. Larry says:

    Walker, I certainly get what you’re saying, and it’s good that things over the last four years have been going well for you. They’ve been going moderately well for me too. What I object to is the collectivist overtones to everything Obama proposes. The ACA is a well intentioned but dangerous example of socialism that I believe is destined for expensive failure, no matter whose idea it originally was. I worry what comes next if the economy continues to deteriorate. More taxes? More spending? Vast public works projects we don’t need or want? What will we do about uncontrolled immigration? Foreign policy that affects life at home? I get it that everyone worries about the same things, but for me, the important part is how we approach the solutions.

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  31. “The fact checkers will have a field day, as well they should, but the key for me was the difference in the way the two men presented themselves.”

    I didn’t waste my time watching the “debate,” because it excluded about 2/3 of the viable candidates… the ones that would’ve made it a real debate. But Larry’s comment above is telling. There are a lot of voters for whom facts don’t matter, for whom whether “their guy” is actually telling the truth doesn’t matter. And this applies to Obama supporters too. Since smaller party candidates like Green Jill Stein or Libertarian Gary Johnson base their campaigns not on empty talking points and are blacklisted from debates by their corporate organizers, the marginalization of facts in the minds of so many voters hurts them almost as much as the media blacklist.

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  32. JDM: Who’s going to believe the pollsters? The real question is why should anyone care, other than campaign officials, pay attention to them at all. They’re a distraction from real issues for most citizens. They are nothing more than a crutch for lazy journalists and a stick for fan boys/girls of the two main candidates.

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  33. Larry says:

    Brian (MOFYC not NCPR), I’m surprised you’re commenting on the debate given you didn’t waste your time watching or listening to it.

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  34. Larry: I won’t use childish names like Mittens or Obummer. But I won’t call the GOP nominee Governor Romney because he is not a governor.

    I’ve always disagree with this custom. It’s not accurate. Romney is not a governor. Bill Clinton is not a president (or for that matter a governor). Mister is the appropriate title for both.

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  35. Newt says:

    Larry, you do a real service by stating concisely what the candidates could have, but did not, do last night: stating how the two political parties differ in basic beliefs. “We clearly have a difference there; whether the government or individuals should take the lead and predominate in the pursuit of our goals. Should there be a collective or individual approach? That’s the issue and the difference between the candidates.”

    Except, there is a bit more to it than that. Once upon a time, Democrats\liberals did indeed believe that government should take a commanding role in society. They were always ready to throw out a new program to fix or improve things, especially when it would when them votes. The seventies showed that this approach was terribly flawed, as well as being arguably at odds with Founders, who spent a lot of time setting up a constitution that did more to limit government than expand it. Today, we are more humble about the ability of the government to create educated citizens, jobs come to depressed communities, prevent crime, etc.

    But neither is government powerless to do positive good. I think many Americans believe that government, as Lincoln wrote in 1854,

    “The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and indivdual capacities …. .”

    In other words, unlike truly collectivist political systems, the people should be left alone, unless and until it is demonstrably proven that this is not working on a societal level. At that point, private systems having failed, government can intervene. Even if it means stepping on the precious individual freedoms of some people.

    As in the case of the spread of slavery, before the Civil War, the abuses of Robber Barons in the Gilded Age, the destitution of 1/4 of the nation in the 1930′s, and a health care system that is in nearly all ways inferior and more expensive than even the poorest (e.g. Hungary, Spain) of today.European nations today.

    This is “pragmatism”, (also the name given the only American-created philosophical system by William James around 1900). It is what we used to be very good at -when Republicans believed in it also-, and still do better than anyone else in the world.

    The real contest today is between the “pragmatic” party, and the “I got mine, so get of my lawn and go to hell, except when I deem it necessary to enforce my religious views upon you.” party. I know there is more to than that, but not that much more.

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  36. Larry says:

    Newt,
    You almost had me there! What about the “You have more than you need so how about giving me some and then going to hell, unless I need more that I don’t want to work for” party?

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  37. Kathy says:

    Anyone else care to share how the heavy hand of government has trodden on your rights as a free individual since Obama became president?

    Walker, the handwriting’s on the wall. We’ve gotten just a taste. Four more years of going down this path we’re on and then we’ll talk about the heavy hand of government for sure.

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  38. Larry says:

    “Anyone else care to share how the heavy hand of government has trodden on your rights as a free individual since Obama became president?”

    Given that Obama hasn’t actually done anything, it’s more his potential for mischief that worries me. I don’t know as we can reasonably expect to re remain unscathed for another four years.

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  39. Walker says:

    “We’ve gotten just a taste. Four more years of going down this path we’re on and then we’ll talk about the heavy hand of government for sure.”

    Ah, I see! It just hasn’t happened quite yet, but the next four years is when they’ll roll out the death camps! Gimme a break!

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  40. Walker says:

    But basically, Kathy, Larry, what you’re saying is that your rights as a free individuals are unchanged after four long years of the heavy hand of Obama. Interesting.

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  41. dbw says:

    Yeah, I don’t get this government thing at all. I go about my daily life without giving a whole lot of thought about any level of government impinging upon my daily activities. They are all doing a good job of leaving me alone. Under Obama care I might have to buy insurance if I don’t have any, how is that different from the government requiring me to have car insurance? On the other hand, some groups of people, such as gay folks or women may be concerned that if Obama doesn’t win that they will see their daily lives affected by the long arm of government and their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness changed.

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  42. PNElba says:

    Well, to be fair, the socialist/kenyan/muslum president is in favor of allowing gays to marry and will not defend the defense of marriage act. That has affected my rights.

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  43. “Given that Obama hasn’t actually done anything…”

    He’s the root of all evil even though he “hasn’t actually done anything” in four years.

    Who’s writing this stuff? Jon Stewart? The Onion?

    Comedy gold.

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  44. JDM says:

    Walker “Ah, I see! It just hasn’t happened quite yet, but the next four years is when they’ll roll out the death camps! Gimme a break!”

    I think if you read the Obamacare details, you will see that most of the taxes and panels don’t start – until after this election.

    Dastardly by design.

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  45. Walker says:

    Which “panels” would those be JDM?

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  46. Larry says:

    So, we should stay calm and not worry until it’s too late? Is that how it works?

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  47. JDM says:

    The “death” panels, Walker. The ones who say, “you don’t get treatment, go home and die”

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  48. Pete Klein says:

    I didn’t intend to watch the “debate” but did end up watching most of it and was totally bored.
    I thought both were lousy and so was moderator Jim.

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  49. Rancid Crabtree says:

    One example of the attempt Obama had made to negate our rights would be Operation Fast and Furious, an attempt to limit the 2nd Amendment by allowing American firearms to be illegally sold to straw purchasers that took them into Mexico for the drug cartels. So far we know at least one USBP Agent and 15 teenagers were killed by these weapons, that the AG got a complete pass and that the Obama Administration has refused to provide needed documentation to the committee investigating the event in Congress. Another way he’s affected our rights is through the use of Executive Orders and Recess Appointments. Using a Recess Appointment when Congress isn’t in recess is illegal and improper and is in effect negating our rights to proper representation in our government. Executive Orders authorizing what is in effect his Dream Act after Congress voted it down is usurping the power of Congress, a clear violation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Affordable Care Act, which wasn’t a tax, had to be called a tax to pass Supreme Court muster, although Obama still says it isn’t a tax. And while it may not be a civil right, it’s taken 3 weeks for the White House to finally let the FBI get to Libya to investigate the rape and murder of our Ambassador, who was essentially alone in a hostile nation looking for the weapons we supplied to Al Qiada to help in the overthrow of the previous regime, or so goes the story. An administration involved in illegal arms transfers to a terrorist organization? Seems I heard about a similar event some years back. Where’s the press on this when it’s not a Republican president?

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  50. Walker says:

    “The “death” panels, Walker. The ones who say, “you don’t get treatment, go home and die.”

    They’re all working for the insurance companies, JDM.

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