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Obama Bombed Debate Prep

Canceled sessions, gave uneven performances.
Chip Somodevilla

The president barely got a passing grade in debate prep, administration aides told The New York Times. Distracted by other responsibilities, Obama offered erratic performances as he geared up, appearing by turns energetic or insensate, White House aides said.

Romney Helped PBS as Governor

Bill funded production of public programming.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images; Randy Holmes, ABC / Getty Images

At least Big Bird can take comfort that Mitt Romney once helped fund PBS. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a bill for a film tax-credit program that resulted in funding for, among other things, Boston public-television giant WGBH and other producers of public television.

Romney Wins the Week

Even an impressive jobs report doesn’t change it: Romney’s debate gave him a lifeline, and he has a fighting chance to turn this race around. Mark McKinnon on the state of play.
Brian Snyder, Reuters / Landov

So, polls will tell us soon enough where the 2012 race nets out after the two significant developments of this last week: the debate and the jobs numbers. Whatever the actual impact is on the race, the psychological impact cannot be understated.

Debate Cheating Conspiracies

The Romney camp insists the candidate didn’t bring any illicit notes to Wednesday’s debate—as a video appears to show—but an old-fashioned handkerchief. From Kerry’s card to Palin’s palm, see more pols accused of cheating.
AP Photo (4)

From Romney’s handkerchief to Kerry’s card to Palin’s palm, see politicians accused of cheating.

Blame It on John Kerry!

Obama’s tepid debate performance isn’t entirely his fault. Matt Latimer on the president’s peculiar choice of surrogates—and why he needs Clinton now more than ever.
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

If you did not watch Wednesday night’s presidential debate, here’s how bad it was:  the Democrats are now looking to Joe Biden to turn things around. Yes, the latest Mitt Romney was one of the best models his technicians have produced yet, free from technical glitches and referencing real Americans he’d met on the campaign trail so often you’d think he might actually remember them.

Lehrer: ‘No Apologies’

Under fire for losing control of the Denver debate, the longtime PBS anchor tells Howard Kurtz his strategy was deliberate—and what’s more, it produced a new kind of presidential face-off.
Saul Loeb, AFP / Getty Images

Jim Lehrer has heard the critics of his performance at the presidential debate, and he dismisses them—politely, of course—as just plain wrong.“I have no apologies,” he told me after returning from Denver. “I have some regrets about how some of the things went.

How Low Will Joe Go?

With Obama having lost to Romney in their debate, Biden may use his face-off with Ryan to score points against the top of the GOP ticket. It could help the Democrats—and there’s no need to worry about appearing ‘un–vice presidential.’
AP Photo (2)

In his feeble, distracted debate performance against Mitt Romney, President Obama all but ignored the major Democratic lines of attack against the Republican nominee, forcing Joe Biden to consider an effort to renew those forgotten narratives when the vice-presidential candidates face one another Thursday night.

Obama Blew It With Women

As Mitt Romney spoke of a new mom and her unemployed husband at the debate, why did President Obama miss the perfect opportunity to assail his rival on the issues dear to female voters? Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress says what the president didn’t.
Getty Images (2)

From the look of my Twitter feed last night, I wasn’t the only one frustrated by President Obama’s lackluster debate performance, including his failure to mention women’s issues even once.In a year when the “war on women” has reared its head with attacks on breast-cancer screenings, birth-control coverage, and family-planning funding, along with laws requiring vaginal ultrasounds and comments about “legitimate rape,” you would think us ladies might register just a little bit—especially when the president enjoys an 18-percentage-point lead over his competitor among women.

Two Americas: The 47 Percent vs. the Clingers

Two Americas: The 47 Percent vs. the Clingers
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Never mind the big-tent debate talk from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney about how their respective politics will benefit all Americans. There’s a broader, ugly truth that as the last traces of purple fade from the electoral map, whoever wins will have little reason to take care of much of the country that rejected them.

Will Mitt Get a Major Bounce?

Romney clearly won Wednesday’s debate. But will it make a difference in the polls? Douglas Schoen and Jessica Tarlov predict the bounce will be real but modest.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The instant postdebate polls are showing a huge Romney victory. In CNN’s survey of people who watched the debate, 67 percent thought Romney did a better job, while just 25 percent thought Obama did. “No presidential candidate has topped 60 percent in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” observed CNN polling director Keating Holland.

How Obama Threw It All Away

After the president’s calamitous performance Wednesday night, historian Simon Schama asks if Obama has it within himself to turn things around.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

As the whoppers tumbled from his smiling lips, Pinocchio Romney’s nose grew so long that it was practically poking out the eye of his mournful opponent. But even had it struck raw cornea, the president would have politely removed the intruding proboscis to say, “Governor Romney, I probably agree that the nation could do with a good eye watering, though we disagree on the manner in which it would be administered,” or some such snappy retort.

Lehrer Defends Debate Performance

Says he stayed out ‘of the flow.’
Saul Loeb / AFP / GettyImages

Pundits mostly panned President Obama’s debate performance Wednesday night, but 78-year-old Jim Lehrer was also criticized by many pundits for being too passive as moderator. Now the former anchor of PBS’s NewsHour is responding.

Obama Lost the Right Way

Romney walked away happy. But at least the president defended his own record with integrity. Deepak Chopra on why Mitt’s Etch-a-Sketch shake won’t last.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Personally, I was glad that President Obama debated the way he did, despite alarmist signals from commentators who had already set up a victory for Romney in advance. They got what they predicted. But the first presidential debate came at the peak of a highly effective fall campaign by the president and his team.

Your One-Word Debate Reax

As the candidates left the stage in Denver, we asked our readers to give one-word reviews. Here are the resulting word clouds—see who’s a “liar” and who was “lackluster.”

Just moments after Mitt Romney and Barack Obama left the stage following Wednesday night's presidential debate, we polled our readers on Facebook to tell us one word that summed up each of the candidates' performances.

‘Attacking Me Is Not An Agenda’

Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama for, well, attacking him—and he doubled down on this approach Monday night: 'Attacking me is not an agenda,' Romney scolded.

  1. Giddyup! Obama's Big Bayonet Slam Play

    Giddyup! Obama's Big Bayonet Slam

  2. ‘The 1980s Called…’ Play

    ‘The 1980s Called…’

  3. ‘We Can’t Kill Our Way Out’ Play

    ‘We Can’t Kill Our Way Out’

Must-See Moments

Foreign Policy Showdown

Best Moments From the Final Presidential Debate

Best Moments From the Final Presidential Debate

Obama and Romney duked it out on foreign policy Monday night. Watch the most memorable moments.


Ground Game

Obama Opens Up Big Lead

Obama Opens Up Big Lead

As of mid-October, the Obama campaign has 755 offices nationwide for its get-out-the-vote effort—nearly three times as many as the Romney campaign. PLUS: John Avlon and Michael Keller break down what the office edge could mean on election day.


Election Ad Tracker

View, rate, and fact check the latest campaign ads.

Watch This

History Lesson

7 Debate Wins and Fails

7 Debate Wins and Fails

Dukakis and the rape question. Reagan and his age joke. See the highest and lowest moments of debates past.


Debate Memes

The Best Horses & Bayonets Photos

The Best Horses & Bayonets Photos

Big Bird, Binders Full of Women, and, now, Horses and Bayonets. The funniest meme photos from the latest debate catchphrase.

Watch This!

Art Imitates Life

10 Greatest Fictional Debates

10 Greatest Fictional Debates

Ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate, a look at the more entertaining showdowns from film and TV.


Full Debate Coverage

GOP Can Win the Equal Pay Debate

GOP Can Win the Equal Pay Debate

The gender pay gap is no black and white issue. If the Republicans stopped doing stupid things, this is an argument they could win.

Dirty Divas

The Pornification of Pop

The Cut

Docs, Stop Forcing Circumcision


Women As Peacemakers

The Full Lineup

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda