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Preview of Presidential Town Hall Debate

Preview of Presidential Town Hall Debate

The debate Tuesday night is a “town hall” style.

While the prevailing wisdom is that this will help Obama, I’m not so sure.  While it will give Obama the chance to give hope and change type mini-speeches, it also gives Romney the chance to push the American capitalism versus European nanny government theme.  Romney has been quite good on the stump speaking of American exceptionalism and the freedom and free enterprise society.

Obama reportedly also is planning an assault on Romney’s Bain background, but I predict a backfire.  Romney will have the chance to explain to the nation without media filter his side of the Bain story.  Romney will frame the issue as one of the private sector versus “trickle down government.”  It puts Solyndra in focus.

At the Town Hall debate in 2008, Obama did okay, but I wouldn’t call it a home run.  Polling showed Obama won, but not overwhelmingly.  Even the MSNBC commentators in 2008, while obviously siding with Obama, were not gushing, and focused on McCain’s alleged errors during the debate.

The full 2008 Town Hall Debate is here.  Here are some excerpts:

Restoring The American Dream

Government Spending

Protecting The World


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Obama can’t come out and all out assault Romney like Biden did with Ryan with the help of Raddatz. If he does, he will look REALLY bad and especially since it gives Romney the excuse to attack back. Romney is really good at counterattacking with so much and so methodically that Obama will be buried with it.

Plus, HE STILL THINKS HE WON THE FIRST DEBATE! He thinks that if you read the transcript, he would come out on top. His thought he brought his “A” game last time. He may try to call out Romney more this time, but he won’t be any better than he was with Hillary. He doesn’t have the audience to help him like in those debates. He is too used to adoring crowds and doesn’t know if he is hitting home unless he gets a response. He won’t. And Candy Crowley won’t be able to help him either.

Hmmm, an angry incumbent President talking down his challenger? Does he think he’s FDR, after Pearl Harbor? In a townhall format? I think that his team has not thought this thru.

The worst event next week for Obama will be his appearance on Jon Stewart’s show. I think Stewart will ask him some real questions. It will be like the Unavision interview – he’s expecting to be in a friendly forum.

    I’m not so sure…I suspect that Jon will still hand him soft balls…because Obama is in a desperate position and Stewart won’t want to be another one to make The One look even worse than he already is…

    raven in reply to javau. | October 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I don’t agree. I think Stewart will be mildly, hygienically irreverent but mostly fawning. None of these liberals want to be the one blamed for screwing the pooch for Obama down the stretch.

I read somewhere on the blogs today what I thought was a good comeback for the Bain attack. Paraphrased (because I can’t remember exactly where I saw it): If Romney is responsible for a company that he left 12 years ago, why isn’t Obama responsible for the economy in the last four years?

I’m ashamed to say that I never thought of it myself, having been drummed repeatedly by the media about how Obama inherited a bad economy.

I’m really nervous about Tuesday’s debate, but if Obama is really convinced that he did well in the first one and all he was lacking was some aggression, then he’ll do badly in the next debate. The only way a person can improve is to first admit to his shortcomings. Fortunately for us, The One is not one of those people who can.

    barbara in reply to Anna. | October 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    “Obama inherited a bad economy”

    I’m so tired of hearing this crap (no offense to you, Anna – I know that’s what the MSM has been peddling ad nauseum).

    Bambi didn’t inherit anything – he begged for the job. Said he could/would turn it around. Had a Dem House and Senate for the first 2 years, and did NOTHING but waste our money and screw up our health system, effectively raising our taxes (fees, my ass), thereby causing businesses to not hire and/or to cut hours. Or close altogether.

    Now he’s claiming that if we give him 4 more years, he’ll somehow “turn it around.” Then what has he been doing for the last 4 years? (Besides giving our tax dollars to his cronies, punishing anyone who questions or disagrees with him, and doing his damnedest to divide the nation into grievance groups.)

    If my ancestors had wanted me to live in slavery to the state, they wouldn’t have gotten on those boats, left Europe, and come here. Bambi – the lying SoS – has got to go.

Maybe Obama will pull a Biden and become Two-Face to Biden’s Joker.

I’m not so sure that ANY unscripted debate will benefit Obama. He has a difficult time when he’s not using a teleprompter. However, what I worry about is packing the audience with people who will toss out soft balls to Obama, while hammering Romney with loaded questions. That’s the thing…

    heimdall in reply to Rich Vail. | October 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    You know? Mitt’s campaign is one of the best I’ve seen in my time watching these things. They don’t crack under pressure and they have a plan.

    Remember when everyone was freaking out over the last few months when Obama was saturating the airwaves and “crushing” Mitt in the swing states? They put advertising up but it was still being outspent 10-20 to 1 in some areas.

    The media narrative was that Obama won the election in September and that it was over. But then the debate happened and everyone got to see the real Obama and the real Romney. Then the polls shifted to more accurate sampling.

    The Romney campaign knew that they were going to get attacked hard over the next week and prepped Ryan for the debate with crazy old man Biden. Ryan was attacked from all sides in that debate from Biden and the FREAKING MODERATOR, but he stayed cool. Biden played to the base and turned off everyone else. The polls came out showing Romney/Ryan winning the vast majority of the undecideds and Obama leaners. Biden is coming off the loser even though the debate was a “draw.”

    Now Romney is starting up an ad barrage for this month and his superpac ROF will be saturating the swing states with over 15 million dollars in advertising in the last week of the month. The GOTV is working so well in Ohio that they have shrunk the Democrat early vote lead from 14% in 2008 to 6% today.

    The next debate may give more momentum to Romney if he does well, I think he will. They will have been gaming the absolute WORST questions for him in their practice debates, so he will be ready. Obama will now have to answer for Libya, now that the State Dept. and Hillary Clinton are fighting back against the blame game the WH is playing.

    This will be an interesting week!

    GrumpyOne in reply to Rich Vail. | October 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Yes, I’m sure that there will be democrat “plants” in the audience. If we’re lucky, there might be a couple of conservative ones as well.

    But when it comes down to fact, Romney has the big advantage over the anointed one. I’ve seen him perform in this type of setting and he was far more than adequate.

    I don’t think it will be a slam dunk like the first debate but he should win handily…

      heimdall in reply to GrumpyOne. | October 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      I did not think that Romney would come out like he did in the first debate. I thought he would pull a McCain. I expected to see a mealy mouth me too RINO Republican. Boy am I glad I was wrong.

      I should have seen it coming based on how it worked in the debates. I am SO glad Perry and Gingrich brought up the tax and Bain stuff against Mitt and that he was pounded so much by the other Republicans on the healthcare stuff. It really made him into a better candidate.

McCain’s wandering in the camera background did him no good. When you’re the oldest guy ever running, “wandering” isn’t a meme you seek. Romney needs to be still while Obama has the floor, and better yet, not in the picture.

” It puts Solyndra in focus.”

It should also put into focus the fact that Obama closed car dealerships with his auto bailout. Romney shouldn’t forget to point that out if Obama goes malignant with Bain demagoguery.

    heimdall in reply to RightKlik. | October 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Yep. All Romney needs to do is to trot out all the failed green “investments” the prez made on our behalf. I forgot about all the car companies closing because of Obama. This is why I think Obama will lose the debates because as much as he wants to talk about Romney, there is a METRIC TON of stuff to talk about what HE has done in office.

The problem with a “game plan” like “attack on Bain” is that the format isn’t conducive to it. If Crowley “selects” a Bain question from online submissions, her bias would be too obvious (especially now that Obama has declared his strategy – of course they also said they are going after Romney’s record as Governor).

So Obama will have to twist the undecided voters’ questions around to attack on Bain. That will not come across well, like Biden’s constant smirking and laughing.

As with Biden, bad behavior may endear Obama to sort of rotten scum that is his base but the undecided and swing voters hate that stuff. They want everyone to “just get along and get things done.” They want less partisanship, not sharper elbows.

And the women Obama so desperately needs to keep beguiled don’t like that behavior either.

Careful, Barry, you’re gonna choke.

A great deal of attention was paid to Martha Raddatz and her role in the VP debate and rightly so, but almost nothing has been said about who will decide the make up of the “town” in the townhall meeting. Don’t put it past Axlerod to game the system, after all, the Obama trained media are now printing pictures of “racist” tee shirts supposedly seen at Romney speeches. You can bet these will be trumpeted by Maddow, etc as nauseum next week. So my guess is that BO crew has some tricks up there sleeve to get as many of their sock puppets in the crowd as possible and to have any number of “gotcha” quesitons planted for Romney. I do not trust the media or this process.

Sorry for the lousy spelling.

I agree. Not only is Obama a horrible extemporaneous speaker (he’s just not that bright) but I think it’s also quite possible that this out-of-touch tin ear admin/campaign will actually push Obama to be nasty and mean-spirited (and he finds that very easy). That simply won’t play well either in the actual town hall setting or in Americans’ living rooms.

After his last disastrous debate performance and that moronic bipolar showing by Biden, Obama and his team may well swing too far the other way and make a major mistake (or several). The far left is pushing Obama to be more passionate and powerful, and that always translates to mean-spirited, sneering, petty condescension from Obama. That’s what I hope to see and think we may actually see if what his people are saying is accurate.

Romney needs to be on his game, and I think that he will be.

I’m popping popcorn.

Urkel will stammer and uh, uh, uh. Hope they have a time limit as he tends to take 9 minutes to answer even the simplest question.

The good part is Team Extreme lives in a progressive ideology biosphere. They will yes El Supremo all the way to defeat.

They have to stick to the lies into which they and their ubiquitous liberal media pals have invested many $100s of millions of dollars and those lies fall apart in full view of the now-engaged and watching moderate voting block; a block that normally pays scant attention to politics and is bombarded with left-wing biased media when they do take an interest.

Debates can be extremely powerful for an Obama opponent with the above in mind.

If Obama dares try the limousine liberal condescending approach that handed Biden his ass, it is game over cubed for liberals.

I am expecting an historic follow-up to debate #1 & #2.

I am sure Obama will not disappoint me.

I think the “townhall” format is a joke and a ruse. Candy Crowley will select, traffic-cop and control the questions and the flow of the conversation. Don’t think for a second that she cares about the “appearance” of bias as she chooses thorny and sucker-punch questions for Romney and softballs for Obama. She cares FAR more about what her peers will say than what America thinks. She thinks she can “save” Obama here. You don’t think she’ll try?

I was a “citizen participant” in the 1996 Town Hall format debate between Clinton and Dole that was held at the University of San Diego. I was selected because I told a telephone surveyor that I was “undecided” as to which one of the two candidates for whom I was going to vote. For my money, the event was one big waste of time … mostly because both sides had their familiar platitudes and talking points down pat at that point in the campaign and those were mostly what I heard from the both of them that evening.

Frankly, I don’t expect much more to come out of Tuesday night’s exercise than what I experienced sixteen years ago.

A couple of side observations:

a. Hillary Clinton was there and really struck me as a Nurse Ratchett type … only Hillary had a much meaner look in her eyes.

b. Although the “citizen participants” were purported to be mostly undecided voters, they weren’t. It sure seemed to me that not just a few committed Clintonistas had managed to infiltrate the selectees, managed to get better seating, and have their prepared questions asked by the supposed “random” selection process instituted by moderator Jim Lehrer.

c. This creeped me out; after the debate was over the candidates both mingled with the “citizen participants for a “grip and grin” session … and I was probably the only one who didn’t go up and shake Bill Clinton’s hand. Somehow Clinton knew just who he’d talked to during the course of the evening and, every time I looked in his direction, it seemed that he was glancing in my direction as if he was waiting for me to come over and meet him. I never did.

d. I think former President Gerry Ford, who also attended the event, insulted me; can’t be sure. During the “grip and grin” session I went up to him and asked him to autograph the event ID badge I was given. As he was hesitantly but obligingly doing so, I said to him “President Ford, I graduated from the University of Michigan too,” and he replied “You look like you went to Michigan.” Never figured out quite what he meant by that. All-in-all, in person, Gerry Ford didn’t quite live up to his billing as a nice guy as far as I was concerned.

    MKReagan in reply to Samuel Keck. | October 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Samuel – Ford was my congressman and House Minority Leader when I was growing up. I met him once, in 1970, on a visit to his DC office to recognize me for a big award I’d received. He was very warm and friendly, but he did give me a hard time about being a freshman at Michigan State. So I’m going to guess he didn’t mean to insult you, probably was a compliment. Or maybe he just assumed you were a Lib from Ann Arbor. LOL.

      Samuel Keck in reply to MKReagan. | October 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Or maybe he just assumed you were a Lib from Ann Arbor.

      Actually, MK, I’m anything but; grew up in conservative Jackson County and at 6′ – 185, Viet Nam vet, former Marine, I’m anything but your stereotypical U of M English Lit dweeb mincing down South Main Street in Ann Arbor type.

      Anyhow, at the time he said it, I took it as a bit of a put-down; mayhaps Mr. Ford was just having a bad night — but his tone and borderline incivility certainly didn’t impress me favorably at the time.

I hope you’re right, Professor.

If Romney wins Tuesday night, it’s all over for Obama & Co.

I’m praying to see the fat lady sing Tuesday night … I don’t care if it’s Rosie O’Donnel or …

Candy Crowley will do her best to steer the conversation and the questioners will have ringers, but that will not rescue the wan one. I can not think of an example of Obama moving people toward a new path against their inclination. 2008 was platitudes and open ended promises to people who wanted to go with him. Healthcare, was unpopular and no matter how many times Obama spoke it was still unpopular. He could not even coax his own party to his side.It took old fashioned arm twists and deals to get it through congress. The debt ceiling talks is another Obama fiasco.
People are leaning away from him now, he needs to speak to people directly and connect with each personally so remote viewers can place themselves in the audience. Think Reagan, Clinton, JP2, Chris Christie, not Obama, he is not a closer.

Anybody else seen the new ad for Obama narrated by Morgan Freeman?

Morgan Freeman … who’s played God a few times on the screen … to me is now … well, he isn’t God anymore … just like Obama.

I emailed my sister and told her to send me a scan of my favorite picture of her … arm in arm with George Burns at his son, Ronnie’s wedding (Ronnie married one of my sister’s best friends).

I was going to send it to the Professor with the subject heading, “This guy is God … not Morgan Freeman!”

My sister emailed back saying she has no idea where the picture is and asked me why I wanted it.

How could she not know where a picture where she’s arm in arm with God be? And he’s holding his trademark cigar and beaming at her, too.


    GrumpyOne in reply to LukeHandCool. | October 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    The Freeman ad will only influence the hard core 47%. No rational being will pay it much heed based on the anointed one’s record of non-accomplishment and baseless attack ads.

[…] Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: Preview of Presidential Town Hall Debate […]

The Townhall Format for a presidential debate gives me a rash. I HATE it. Paaaatoooooey..!

That said, if His Infantile Majesty attacks Mitt’s Bain Record it just might be a lovely, “Make my day”, slip on his part. I agree, Professor J., that it could open some real aggressive b’yotch slappin’ opportunities for Mr.Romney. He employed thousands. He LIVED the American Entrpreneurial Spirit and Reality. He LED. Ya know, as in LEADERSHIP and LEADING. Tough decisions, great success for himself and many, many others. He could challenge The Boy King as to WHAT, PRAY TELL, did you ever lead..? Anything as big as the night shift at a Circle-K Mini Mart? Nope. Tell him about Hard WORK as opposed to the Perpetual Campaign that began January 21, 2009. Ask him if he’s once spent as much as 2-damned weeks WORKING in the Oval as opposed to The Road and blatherfesting-speechifying-fund raising and playing more golf than Ike did in 8-years. How about his non-attendance for Intell Briefings, Cabinent Meetings(You know, with CABINET Members, not Valerie Jarret..), etc, etc. The EVIDENCE is that Barry HATES stick-to-it Hard Work…The sweating, muscular, steady, roll-up-your-sleeves kind that the job NEEDS. So much material from which to choose; so little time.

‘Go ahead, Chicago Punk…Make my day.’

Eric Lindholm | October 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Hey, long-time reader, first-time commenter.

I can’t wait for the next debate because I think Obama’s attacks on Bain will backfire spectacularly. I agree with the person above who said: “if Romney is responsible for a company he left 12 years ago, why isn’t Obama responsible for the last four?”

Americans want to hear solutions but, as even the Washington Post pointed out today, Obama has no second-term agenda. The Bain attacks (or tax returns or whatever attacks) will reinforce the idea Obama has nothing to offer.

Obama is as real as “Chauncey Gardiner” was in the movie “Being There!” Obama will do well if TOTUS is allowed in the room or if his “special eye contacts” permit him to read the really special TOTUS screen. If Romney can get Obama off his feed, of TOTUS that is, we should hear lots of ums and aws coming from El Presidente Obama; along with lots of “wait a minute,” and “now hold on there!”

BannedbytheGuardian | October 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

I say Benghazi is the pivot . As soon as it happened i knew that all the media happy days were finished.

Obama cannot be protected any more.

Soon it will be asked

– where are the other ‘survivors’?

– why did not the State Dept call for libyan assistance ? Benghazi does have a British trained & supplied police force . There does not appear to be any post attack police security either.

-Who was in the Turkish party visiting that night & did they scout the buildings & grounds?

Something is bigger than the even the discredited story given. I am leaning towards Turkish involvement . Erdogan is a stealth missile & Turkey has every intention of being the centre of The Caliphate.

Also this video stuff allowed the then upcoming UN fest to be almost an islamic tide .

I hope Romney can corner Obama.

Any fairly intelligent child could destroy Obama in a debate by merely by pointing out the flying obvious about him. But to many people, doing so is like pointing out an alcoholic relative at a family dinner.

I’m hoping Romney sees the big picture and dispense with niceties in order to save the nation — and he thus drops a sledgehammer on a cockroach calling himself ‘Barack Obama.’ (John Boehner will be in the back of the room, hiding under a table.)

[…] debates particularly no matter how much or how little he studies up. Hillary beat him repeatedly and even the hapless John McCain did well against Obama even as McCain tied his own hands by keeping away from Obama’s personal life and […]

[…] stream media to spin every word, we might get to actually hear that elusive thing called truth. (Legal Insurrection) The debate Tuesday night is a “town hall” […]

In the Art of War, you read that you have to prohibit your enemy from using his strengths. For Obama, his strength is his perceived feelings for “the little people.” When he talks about people, he stammers less often. Romney can hit him hard in this respect, as Obama’s policies have buried the middle class. Slam him early, and don’t allow him to get into his raspy-voice mode. Make him talk about numbers and facts, and Obama becomes a stumbling, bumbling buffoon.

Can’t bring myself to get excited about this debate. I was so looking forward to Ryan proving his superiority in that position of being a heartbeat away from the presidency, only to see him mocked for doing just that, I am not eager to see Obama follow Biden’s lead in his next attempt. If he thinks he won, “based on the transcript”, but is being pressured to be more ‘bombastic’ now… Even if he fails miserably, I don’t want to watch that circus.

Romney will be able to get his message out if he isn’t martharized by candy cane. Or bidenized by obama. These debates are farces.

    NeoConScum in reply to BarbaraS. | October 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    BarabaraS…That “Those who decide” such things have manipulated the populace into ‘buying’ that if you’re verbally nimble, then, by Gawd, you’re better at being president is A Laugh, is it not?? What ****ing nonsense.

    I graduated from high school 50-years ago last June and still remember the debate club kids. They were–Duhhhhh–good with the verbiage. Few were big on brains or real leadership or even popularity. But, by yimmony, they were nimble with those pesky sentences and debate points. BFD.

    Toss in the “moderators” of MSM-Lapdawgland & it’s really a silly circus. That said, I don’t really fear The Anointed One besting Mitt. He’s a thoroughly Empty Suit. A great little Alinskyite community organizing dweeb. Romney is a Man of Doing. He cares about DOING. Barry wants to BE Somebody. It shows. Fear not.

[…] assault on Romney’s Bain background,” law professor William A. Jacobson predicts “a backfire”: Romney will have the chance to explain to the nation without media filter his side of the Bain […]