Orville Twillman, professor of public affairs at Oxford University and CNN political contributor

Who Won the First Presidential Debate? A Discussion by a Panel of Experts

The Panel:

Ernst Skidmore, nationally syndicated columnist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University
Tony Bledsoe, Republican strategist, former senior advisor to Richard Nixon
and Fox News political consultant
Orville Twillman, professor of public affairs at Oxford University and CNN
political contributor

Ernst Skidmore: Although I personally didn’t catch the debate, my wife did, and she said Mitt Romney came off as poised and confident, while the president seemed reserved, almost condescending.

Orville Twillman: I haven’t really followed this campaign as closely as I should have.

Tony Bledsoe: I read in the paper the next day that Romney came out aggressive, while Barack Obama came off somewhat detached, even professorial. I would have loved to have watched the debate myself, but I had a previous engagement. I tried to record it, but I really don’t know how to work the damn thing.

ES: My wife said Romney interrupted both the moderator and the president. Very aggressive.

Someone on ESPN said Romney played offense, spread the field, while Obama was content to play prevent defense.

TB: With Obama ahead in the polls, I get the impression from listening to the political pundits that the president was just not into this debate. Someone on ESPN said Romney played offense, spread the field, while Obama was content to play prevent defense.

OT: I was invited to attend the debate but decided to sit this one out and watch it on TV with the sound muted.

ES: That’s interesting. You muted the debate?

OT: Yes. To be frank, I’ve had enough of this campaign. Seems like it’s been going on forever.  Anyway, I’ve learned by watching many years of Court TV that you can turn the sound off and predict who will win by studying the demeanor of the parties. I’ve found it to be 95% accurate. So I just watched Romney and Obama’s body language.

ES: The Republican debates were enough debating to last me a lifetime.

TB: So what did this first debate look like to you, Orville, without actually listening to the candidates?

OT: Well, the first thing, from the candidates’ demeanor, I could tell there were no zingers, no major gaffes by either candidate. Neither looked especially flushed nor embarrassed.

TB: Yeah, that’s what someone on CNN said: no zingers.

OT: And while Romney looked enthusiastic, Obama looked lethargic and almost above the fray. So, from what I saw, I’d give the edge to Romney.

ES: A poll I saw yesterday said the same thing: Romney was clearly the winner.

OT: Although we’ve all been very busy lately and haven’t paid much attention to this campaign, I think we can all agree from everything that we’ve heard and read, Romney was the winner, although this first debate was not a game changer.

TB: Romney looked presidential in the pictures I saw on the internet the next day. I just didn’t see any passion in the pics of Obama. I regret I didn’t watch this first debate, but after covering politics for 50 years, I’m sick and tired of it. But I will certainly try to catch the next one, if it doesn’t come on opposite Dancing With the Stars.

ES: I feel the same way, Tony. I hate politics. But I expect the next debate will be a humdinger. I predict both candidates will come out swinging. I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world except for Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars.

OT: I agree. I expect the gloves to come off in the next debate. We should make every effort to watch it. It should be informative and entertaining. Thanks to all of the members of panel. Let’s do this again after the second debate.

 

About Antonio Winnebago

Antonio Winnebago
"When you remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained." - Mark Twain

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