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Debate 2012: Romney and Obama attack, Jim Lehrer loses control -- the media room view

Obama debate thumb.jpg
Big photos below.
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney squared off inside the University of Denver's Magness Arena last night, once again bringing the national spotlight to the Mile High City -- as the two candidates discussed the economy and the role of government in a surprisingly unstructured first presidential debate.

Romney and Obama -- who have both spent a lot of time in the last several months rallying Colorado voters -- frequently interrupted each other during the debate, and Jim Lehrer, the increasingly flustered moderator, often seemed unable to keep the conversation under control. This was especially true during several interactions the PBS NewsHour anchor had with Romney, who was particularly aggressive and confident during the debate -- with the president's deputy campaign manager even saying afterward that the Republican candidate "won on style."

Debate speech 1.JPG
Sam Levin
From inside the media room
The awkward interruptions and chaotic moments of the debate frequently got laughs and scoffs from inside the giant media filing room, where hundreds of reporters from all over the United States and beyond typed and Tweeted furiously during the ninety-minute event.

Here's an exchange toward the end of the event (access the full transcript here), during which Lehrer seemed to acknowledge that things had gotten a little out of hand:

"Alright, gentlemen, listen," Lehrer said as Obama interrupts to try to get a word in.

"Excuse me sir," Lehrer continued. "We've got barely...three minutes left. I'm not going to grade the two of you and say your answers have been too long or I've done a poor job."

"You've done a great job, Jim," the president interjected.

Lehrer continued, "Oh, well, no. But the fact is, government, the role of government and governing.... So we only have three minutes left in the debate before we go to your closing statements. And so I want to ask finally here, and remember we've got three minutes total time here. And the question is this...

This kind of stumbling was common throughout the night. And the interruptions from Romney, who repeatedly continued speaking and attacking the president even after Lehrer requested they move on, reflected an overall level of comfort and poise that political experts -- and Romney fans -- say worked in his favor.

Much of the back and forth of the debate was characterized, unsurprisingly, by both sides arguing that they were being misrepresented by the opponent -- which in the case of some complex topics like health care and federal regulations created some rather dizzying, wonky policy disputes.

Continue for more about the view of the debate from the University of Denver media room.



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4 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Has anyone heard a prediction on Saturday night's , 'Rumble 2012' ?

The latest round featuring O'Reilly & Stewart ?

It's only $5 & takes place right when I'll be wrapping up my prep for

Sun. NFL Fantasy . I could use a good laugh , as well as a 'shot in the arm'

of truth following the Pres getting his balls crushed by that habitual LIAR !

I hope I don't miss any of the punchlines from the thin air ....

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

It was a pathetic performance all round, with the exception of Romney, who offered nothing but a few empty promises.  The energy debate in this country is ridiculous -- to hear the presidential candidates one would think that there are no alternatives to expanding our production of domestic  fossil fuels or developing renewable energy -- there are (see in particular:  http://energyfromthorium.com/).  The most important issue facing the country is an existential one -- is this to be "the land of the free", or not? The United States leads the world in incarceration, so if we want our People to be even as free as the median of other nations, we will have to release more than half of all the Americans in our jails and prisons.  Our history since the prohibition of alcohol has been a progressive demonization of our own People as irrational and inhumane as witch-burnings or pogroms against the Jews, but on a systematic basis and scale reminiscent of the Nazi's Final Solution.  Neither candidate so much as mentioned the issue of criminal injustice, because America has become a nation of fascists, completely dominated by two fascist political parties that prey upon a People too stupid to conceive of anything other than self-immolation.  Both major political parties are engaged in ongoing treason against our nation -- if you are a member, get out!

Matt_in_Boulder
Matt_in_Boulder

Unless and until the format of these "debates" begin to follow recognized rules of debate (http://www.nationalforensics.org/lincoln-douglas-debate/ld-rules), they will continue to be a complete waste of time.  The last thing we need in American Politics is another media event.  What we need is a real debate based on facts and details.

 

I personally don't give a fuck whether Romney or Obama "win" a "debate" such as last night.  It was just as meaningless as their attack ads.

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