The Big Night

Final Pre-Debate Thoughts

Eleven final thoughts on the debate, plus one on baseball.

Well, we’re just hours away now. I assume of course that you’ll all be watching Beast TV, where John Avlon, Michelle Cottle, and your servant will be dispensing apothegmatic wisdom in soundbites that will fit between the answers. And if you’re not following me on Twitter, this is a good day to start, @mtomasky. Herewith, deep thots.

1. What actual reason is there to think Romney will come off as likeable tonight, considering he’s never come off as likeable once?

2. Of course, Obama can be a jerk too. “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.”

3. This whole thing is teed up for Romney to get some momentum, you understand that, right? Go read Mike Allen from this morning. The MSM wants a race. Guys like Allen, Mark Halperin, the. y don’t want a boring October and to some extent they have the power to make it non-boring, so they will.

4. This means Obama has to be pretty aggressive. He has to cover the point spread, as it were. Well, not has to has to, but ought to. Wants to. If Romney loses but covers, that’ll be enough for Mitt-mentum headlines in places like Politico.

5. What IS the point spread, anyway? If this were a football game, I’d call it a four-point spread, maybe five.

6. Speaking of sports, I’ll be paying attention on the side to the AL East situation. I couldn’t name you three Baltimore Orioles, but I like the idea of them, and I hate the idea of the Yankees. As I’ve often written, cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for Exxon. So I hope those idiot Red Sox, whom I don’t like either, can beat them tonight.

7. I think for Obama, pinning Romney down on his tax plan is key. The numbers don’t add up, giveaway to the rich, bust the deficit wide open, etc etc.

8. Romney gets that nervous little laugh and starts talkingreallyfast. If he does that, he’ll be in trouble.

9. On Obamacare. Here, I think Obama ought to mostly stick to things like no lifetime caps. The stuff no one can argue with at all. And no denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. Romney’s position is that he supports that, but only for people who have had continuous coverage, which is a huge difference. Romney will lie and say that’s my position, and Obama need to call bullshit. But then mainly, Obama ought to tell stories here. Remember that mother who spoke at the Dem convention about her little girl who would have been denied coverage under the lifetime cap rule until Obamacare came along? He ought to just tell her story, get a little tear in his eye. That’s how you win that one.

10. I always wish that the person I’m cheering against will have some horrible Freudian slip that will just bury everything else. Like if Romney said, for example, “The President’s policies are taking America black to the days of the Great Depression.” That would be really cool. But it never happens.

11. It turns out that most of what does happen at these things is stuff we’ve heard them both say three jillion times.

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12. Should Obama mention Bain, do the whole vulture capitalism trip, without specifically using those words? Probably. It works. He should definitely get into Romney’s 14 percent tax bracket. That’s the kind of aggressive I mean above. Keep at him. The expectation is that the challenger will throw the most stones. That’s how it usually works. Obama should throw every one of them back and then some.