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Romney Won and the Truth Lost

Romney lied brazenly about everything—notably on taxes—yet over and over again an honest but listless and meandering Obama failed to effectively challenge him.
Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

At a doctor’s appointment today, I was warned that, being seven and a half months pregnant, I should try not to get too stressed out watching tonight’s presidential debate. Fat chance. For the first hour and 10 minutes, watching Mitt Romney dominate his confrontation with President Obama was such an excruciating exercise in frustration that I probably should have turned it off and taken to my bed.

Did Glib Performance Help Mitt?

Romney was on a roll, and Obama seemed curiously passive. But while the former governor won the Denver debate on style, his slick performance may not have wowed voters who don’t trust him, says Eleanor Clift.
Eric Gay / AP

Mitt Romney was fired up and ready to go Wednesday in Denver, turning in a performance that exceeded expectations and had President Obama on the defensive for much of the night. “It’s fun, isn’t it,” Romney exclaimed when moderator Jim Lehrer noted the candidates had gone over the time limit on the first segment—and no wonder.

Mitt’s Crafty Moderate Act

Romney jettisoned almost everything about the GOP’s economic agenda that Americans don’t like and essentially told them: There’s no big philosophical disagreement here. Peter Beinart on why Obama needs to reboot.
Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images

For a year, Mitt Romney has been trying to pretend he’s Ronald Reagan. Wednesday night he did something much smarter: He acted like George W. Bush.I mean the George W. Bush of 2000. In 2000, Bush’s strategists made a savvy calculation.

Was That Obama’s Dud Double?

He wasn’t exactly sweaty-Nixonesque, but the Obama on display in Denver was more flaccid, dull-brained, and shifty than we’ve ever seen him in the White House. One thing is clear: Romney’s a debater—and he’s likable, says Tunku Varadarajan.
Nicholas Kamm / AFP-Getty Images

I bedded down for this debate, Scotch in hand, expecting to be bored five ways to rigor mortis. Instead, I was jolted upright by a Mitt Romney who seemed, himself, to have been jolted upright by the prospect of doing or dying.

The Think Tank Snoozer

What should have been a passionate clash about unemployment and economic growth turned out to be a boring, abstract yawner. Daniel Gross on what was missing from the first debate.
Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images

This was supposed to be a debate about the economy–— the gripping, all-consuming question. How is the creaky engine of global growth performing? How can it boost demand and soak up all the unemployed and underemployed? What should be done about the crisis of unemployment? About housing? How can America compete in global markets? And how does the state of play in the global markets affect the economic experience of individuals?That’s not what happened.

Mitt Hit the Ground Running

Romney acted as if he knew what was at stake, while Obama stumbled and fumbled around. The president will have to raise his game for the next showdown.
Eric Gay / AP Photo

If you just dropped by the Earth en route Venus from Mars (or the other way around) and watched this debate you would be hard-pressed to know who was the incumbent president and who was the challenger. From the very start of the debate, it was clear that Mitt Romney knew what was at stake and had taken this seriously.

Mitt Holds His Own

Romney turns in a more energetic performance than the president but spends more time playing defense. Howard Kurtz on the wonkfest in Denver.
Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

DENVER—Barack Obama and Mitt Romney forcefully clashed over their contrasting economic views in their first debate Wednesday night, with the challenger displaying more energy and crispness than the languid and long-winded president.

7 Must-See Moments From the Debate

President Obama and Mitt Romney duked it out on the economy, Obamacare, and Big Bird in the first presidential debate Wednesday night—and pundits are handing the victory to Romney. Watch the night's 7 most memorable moments.
David Goldman / AP Photo

Happy Anniversary, ‘Sweetie’!  President Obama kicked off the debate with a shoutout to his wife, Michelle. “Twenty years ago,” he said, “I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me.” Romney must have been anticipating the sentimental gesture, though, because it prompted his first zinger of the night.

Presidential Debate Interactive

Tonight's the big night! Watch the first 2012 presidential debate right here, live from the University of Denver in Denver, Colo. Take our poll. Chat with writers and other readers, and send questions or comments to the Beast TV panel. Any questions on the chat? Check out our Chat FAQ.
Chris Schneider / AP Photo

Watch the first 2012 presidential debate right here, live from the University of Denver in Denver, Colo.

Readers’ Debate Questions

The Daily Beast polled our readers for 13 questions Jim Lehrer, moderator of Wednesday’s presidential debate, should ask the candidates. See the list!
Kevin Dietsch, UPI / Landov

PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer will be playing the thankless role of moderator in the first of the 2012 presidential debates, which kicks off tonight at 9 p.m. ET streaming live right here on The Daily Beast. The debate will focus on domestic policy, with a heavy look at the economy.

What to Watch For Tonight

At last, the pregame show is over. Brett O’Donnell, America’s premier debate coach, on the key pivot points in the first Obama-Romney throwdown.
Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Tonight, President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney will step onto the stage for the first of perhaps the most consequential series of presidential debates in American history. What is at stake is only matched by the premium Americans have grown to place on the art of political debate itself.

Right Hypes Obama ‘Race’ Video

The 5-year-old tape shows him talking about New Orleans, bias and urban despair. Howard Kurtz on how Fox, Drudge and the Daily Caller are casting it as a racial controversy.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

Conservative media outlets trumpeted a five-year-old video of Barack Obama on Tuesday night in which he talked about urban despair, the Los Angeles riots and Hurricane Katrina but made only glancing references to race.Despite claims that the tape was a racially charged “bombshell,” it shows Obama as a presidential candidate speaking at Virginia’s historically black Hampton University in June 2007—and, according to BuzzFeed, at least part of it has existed online since then.

Mitt’s Game-Change Moment

Romney’s behind and the debates are his last best shot to turn things around. Michael Tomasky tells us how Mitt can make it happen—and what Obama can do to stop him.
Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

So here we go. Mitt Romney’s game-change moment. Banking on low expectations, on the universal expectation that Barack Obama is going to throttle or at least out-score him, and on those now-famous prepared zingers, Romney will use the first debate to turn everything around, right? Well, he might.

7 Debate Wins and Fails

Dukakis and the rape question. Reagan and his age joke. Kennedy and his makeup. Gore’s alpha-male attempt. With the first presidential debate days away, see the highest and lowest moments from debates past.

FAIL: Michael Dukakis’s ‘Weak’ Death Penalty Answer If your wife were raped and murdered, would you want the perpetrator put to death? That was the question put to the Massachusetts governor during the 1988 presidential debate, about his wife, Kitty.

How Mitt Can Win the First Debate

Beating the president in the first debate may be the GOP nominee’s last hope. He could win if he’s disciplined enough to confine himself to a tightly circumscribed message—and gets in big lines that throw his opponent off balance.
Julie Jacobson / AP Photo

By the vast preponderance of harsh judgment, even from conservative poobahs like William Kristol and Peggy Noonan, Mitt Romney has a bad campaign. Who in the world with any sense would have drafted that hasty, ill-informed charge that President Obama sympathized with terrorists during the assault on American diplomats in Egypt and Libya? But it’s not just the campaign that’s bad; it’s the bad candidate who approved that statement, wrote his own junior league acceptance speech, and on the tape at a now notorious fundraiser seemed so uncharacteristically comfortable—with his own kind—while condescendingly writing off half the country as victims unworthy of his concern.

‘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