Forward Thinking

Mitt's 4 Debate Disasters

By Dave Goldiner

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images

Mitt Romney is a skilled debater. Despite his reputation for gaffes, he is usually very effective in structured settings. He makes his points, he makes them clearly and he moves on.

That said, the second presidential debate was a disaster for Romney. Here are four moments where he threw away his latest best chance to take the lead in the race for the White House:

WOMEN AREN’T ONLY ONES IN ‘BINDERS’

Romney thought he was touting his commitment to women by bragging that he demanded a “binder full of women” to fill slots in his cabinet as Massachusetts governor. Trouble is, he sounded like the condescending bean-counting CEO that many voters think he really is.

Women know that “binders” are really a shorthand for keeping women in their place. Leaders in business or politics or any other field who actually care about equality don’t have to come up with a dossier to hire women. They just do it. And what happens when you fill enough slots to make the “binder”? You move back to your white male friends for all the rest of the spots — at least that’s what many suspect.

It’s not just women who may recoil at Romney’s “binder.” Black folks, Latinos, gays and other minorities also know first hand what it’s like to get rejected for something because they didn’t have the right connections with the boss. Precious few can say they got anywhere by being in someone’s “binder.”

By the way, it wasn’t so long ago that Jews were in someone’s “binder,” too.

’PROCEED, GOVERNOR’

A lot has been made about Romney’s disastrous misstatement about the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. It definitely doesn’t get much worse than to get called out by moderator Candy Crowley for flat-out getting your facts wrong.

I am still not sure why Romney and the Republicans think this is a winning issue for them in the first place. Is anyone going to vote against Obama because they aren’t sure he did a good enough job protecting the consulate in Libya? Bringing up this issue just gives the President a chance to say (as he did last night), I’ll bring the terrorists to justice, just like I did with Osama Bin Laden. Who wins that argument?

But even worse than the way Romney messed up the facts was the way he allowed Obama to look authoritative and turn him into a lightweight, without even trying. As Romney kept on talking, he doubled down on an approach that came across as petty and uninformed, especially considering he was talking about our national security.

As Romney dug himself into a deeper and deeper hole, Obama didn’t even have to say much to look cool, calm and in command, just the traits many want in a commander in-chief.

‘Proceed, Governor,’ Obama said dismissively. Translation: ‘Keep digging, Mitt.’

IF LOOKS COULD KILL

A question about immigration was never going to be an easy moment for Romney. He has to walk a tightrope between trying to look like a moderate (“We’re a nation of immigrants”) while pleasing his conservative base by talking up buzz-killing phrases like “self-deportation.”

It made it worse that Lorraine Osorio, the woman asking the question, specifically asked about immigrants who “don’t have a Green Card” but are productive citizens. This is exactly why many Americans disagree with Romney and the GOP. Yes, they are in favor of limiting illegal immigration. But they may have friends or neighbors (or nannies) who are in the U.S. illegally, and wouldn’t want to see them rounded up, or hounded into self-deporting themselves, to use Mitt-speak.

Most questioners try to look respectful and attentive to the candidates, even when they may think the answers miss the point or deliberately ignore their specific question. Osorio made no such effort. At one point, the camera panned out to a wide shot as Romney spoke to her. She glared back at him, legs crossed, clearly not buying a word he said. Millions of immigrants probably gave their TV sets the same look.

47%

Romney got through about 80 minutes of the hour and a half debate without anyone bringing up the devastating secretly recorded video in which he denigrated the ‘47%’ of Americans who he claim pay no federal income tax.

Memo to Mitt: This was a big victory. For the second straight debate, he avoided getting slammed with an issue that sums up many of the reasons that Americans are so suspicious of him.

You could almost hear the screams from Republican strategists when Romney, unprompted, proclaimed in his reply to the final question that he cares “about 100% of the American people.” That gave Obama all the opening he needed to swing back by slamming Romney as someone who doesn’t care about half of the American people, including seniors, veterans, and hard-working single moms.

Would Obama have closed out with his 47% riff anyway? Maybe. But it would have come off much more self-serving and opportunistic if Romney hadn’t hand it to him on a silver platter.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: mitt romney, presidential debate, barack obama

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.