Romney Clear-Cut Victor in First Debate, According to VCU Expert
Jennifer Thompson, assistant professor of political science and director of external relations for the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU, agreed with the consensus opinion that Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, scored a decisive victory in the first of his three debates with President Barack Obama.
Thompson said Romney, who has been trailing Obama in the national polls, took a major step forward.
"Romney was energetic, well-prepared and looked excited about being in the debate,” Thompson said. “He accomplished the two things he needed to do going in: He was able to show that he had the knowledge and temperament to be President. He also was able to show his human side. Without getting into deep ‘zinger’ waters, several of his comments were biting and elicited laughter. He was aggressive – in some cases perhaps too aggressive – but he was able to communicate experience and mastery over complex subject matters.”
In contrast, Thompson said the presence that Obama projected Wednesday night hurt his cause.
“President Obama was poised, but he was almost shockingly lackluster, often appearing in turns bored and angry,” Thompson said. “Instead of rising to the challenge, he shied away from controversy. His body language was off – looking down too often, for example.”
Thompson said the debate could be especially harmful for Obama because he seemed in position to capitalize on some advantages in his battle with Romney.
“Romney by all accounts was the clear winner,” Thompson said. “This is troubling for Obama given that the debate's subject was domestic policy – the subject where attacks on Romney for health care, social security and Medicare could have been damaging.
“Obama was not able to deliver and often appeared listless. Romney will no doubt receive a ‘pop’ in the polls and change the momentum of the race. This is only the first of three presidential debates, so it is too soon to assess the long-term impact of Romney's debate win. It is also debatable how much debates actually factor into a voter's decision-making."
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