Krauthammer: Romney dissolved Obama's negative ads into dust

Assessing the first presidential debate


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 4, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

O'REILLY: And joining us now from Washington Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer. So give me something new, Charles, give me something you picked up during that debate.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS SENIOR ANALYST: Well what I learned by watching it is that Mitt Romney doesn't seem like the kind of guy who kills the wives of laid off steel workers, which is a way of saying that negative campaigning, negative ads are double-edged. They have had a tremendous effect. Including that really revolting ad that was run against Romney with a steel worker whose wife died of cancer looking into the camera blaming it essentially on Romney and saying Romney doesn't care about anybody.

So these things work. They do work. They have been very effective. Romney has the highest negatives or at least until now at this stage in the campaign of any challenger in three decades. But they work only up to and until they collide with reality.

And reality is a debate where you see the real guy for the first time. And you get this remarkable reaction in the CBS poll. 56 percent of respondents said that their opinion of Romney had risen because their opinion of Romney had been that he is he a rapacious capitalist, a Gordon Gekko, a guy who cares for nobody except himself and money and they see a reasonable guy, tough but respectful and they realize that all of the ads that they have seen are false.


KRAUTHAMMER: And the -- and the point you brought up that substantive one where you said it was the best line Romney had about, you know, he is the guy that wants to raise taxes on the middle class and reduce the taxes on the rich. Romney took the beginning of that debate and attacked each of the points and demolished them.

And again, all that came from negative advertising. I think what he did last night is he dissolved $150 million of negative ads and turned them to dust.

O'REILLY: Do you have any idea why Barack Obama didn't mention the 47 percent comment?

KRAUTHAMMER: I was immediately struck by the fact last night in the commentary that's the first -- that's the first thing I mentioned because it was shocking. That is the best weapon that Obama has and he didn't use it. The only possible explanation is that he thought that he is so far ahead he can sit on a lead. He doesn't need to take something that could be dangerous. Because, if you get too tough, you are the incumbent, you are ahead and you get tough on the other guy. That he could be seen as negative. It could hurt Obama's aura. You know this cool unflappable guy.

That must have been the reasoning because there is no other reason. And it makes no sense at all because it's the best thing you got.


O'REILLY: No it doesn't make any sense because you don't have to do in a mean-spirited way. You can do it in a -- do you want to explain that Governor?


O'REILLY: You know it's little unsettling to a lot of people. And I'm sure Romney was prepared and had an answer for it. But it wasn't even raised.

Now, the most important thing about Governor Romney's presentation last night is that he did change some hearts and minds, of course. But now it's the money game. He will be able to raise more money because as you pointed out, in Ohio, President Obama has outspent Romney 45 million to 23 million. In Florida, Obama spent -- have spent so far 40 million to Romney's 21, almost two to one.

And in Virginia 33 million to Romney's 19 million. So the ads that on television primarily that the Obama campaign has been able to take out these in three crucial states have been almost 2 to 1. Now people believe that Romney has a chance and his supporters are going to pony up. So that's going to now bring the ad stuff closer together and I think that, above all else, other than the perception -- personal perception is the most important thing that happened last night.

KRAUTHAMMER: But look, the deciding factor is not necessarily the volume of the ads. It's the content of the ads. And what Romney succeeded in doing was undermining the theme of all the Obama ads. I have seen them because I live near a swing state, Virginia. And if you watched the nationals, you get every other inning the Obama ad saying that Mitt Romney wants to raise taxes on the middle class and they have this little tiny print, which, you know, allegedly is the source of that. Romney demolished that last night.

So how is it going to appear to anybody who has seen Romney demolish last night.

O'REILLY: No I agree. I agree with you but Romney has to also --

KRAUTHAMMER: And -- but he's got to use his staff wisely.

O'REILLY: Right, he's got to come up with a theme. Romney doesn't have a theme yet.


O'REILLY: What Romney did last night was he won the debate on his own personal command of the issues. Now he's got to get a theme for the second and third debate. And the theme I would assume would be the President's incompetent. He just can't do the job. He's a good guy but he's not doing it and he's not doing on the economy or overseas.

Last word, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Unfortunately you're wrong. That's the attack that he's tried. The guy is a good guy but failed. It didn't work. That's the Clint Eastwood -- the Clint Eastwood line.

His attack has to be what he did last night. This is trickle down government. The reason that everything has gone wrong, the debt is high. The economy is struggling. Unemployment is high is because he's a trickle down government guy. That's where he scored all his points. If he keeps it up with a barrage of that from here to Election Day, he wins.

O'REILLY: All right. Charles Krauthammer, everyone.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.