Published December 23, 2015
Pundits on both sides of the aisle praised the presidential candidates for their performances in their first debate but appeared to give the higher marks to Mitt Romney.
In particular, they said, Romney appeared more energetic than President Obama, at least through the first half of the 90-minute debate.
Joe Trippi, a Fox News contributor and a former campaign manager for Democrat Howard Dean, suggested Obama gave the kind of underwhelming performance he has seen in previous debates.
“This is the guy who showed up,” Trippi said. “He didn’t enjoy it.”
Bill Gaston, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institute think tank, said: “Romney did himself considerable good. ... I would not be surprised to learn that a majority of American people think he won it outright.”
Conservatives and Republican leaders were more emphatic. And so was the Twitter-verse, which appeared lopsidedly to favor Romney, even from within the so-called liberal media.
“Mitt was fabulous tonight,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. “I think tonight will go down as one of the most historical one-sided debates in history.”
Like the pre-debate posturing by both camps that pundits compared it to a run-up to a heavyweight boxing match, there was no shortage of sports metaphors in the post-debate analysis.
“I though Romney won and Romney won big,” said Charles Krauthammer, a conservative columnist and Fox News contributor. “He won by two touchdowns.”
Bill Maher, a liberal comedian and TV host who supports Obama, tweeted: “Obama's not looking like he came for a job interview, Romney so far does.”
Nate Silver, an election-race handicapper who writes the closely watched FiveThirtyEight politcal blog for the New York Tinmes, wrote: “I’d be surprised if tonight didn’t move the head to head polls some (in Romney's direction.)"
Even so, the president indeed made several key points and appeared to spring into life as the debate got going, hammering Romney for what he considered a lack of specifics on economic plans – include how Romney would replace the president’s signature health-care law, now popularly called ObamaCare even by the president himself.
Team Obama told reporters in Denver after the debate, “Romney was testy, very testy.”
Vice President Joe Biden praised the president’s performance and attacked Romney for what he considered a lack of specifics on such issues as bank regulations and plans to replace ObamaCare.
“If you watched, you’re as proud of Obama as I am,” Biden said.