The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 4, 2012

Local debate reaction: Romney was 'human' and smoother

SUNBURY — Wednesday night’s first debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, former Gov. Mitt Romney, harkened to the old-style of political debates, when candidates really “went after each other,” said Chris Ellis, a Bucknell University assistant professor of political science.

While noting that presidential debates historically tend to harden views already held by partisans, Ellis said that Romney effectively humanized himself in the debate, “and if that was one of his goals, he probably helped himself.

“On the other hand, while expressing the traditional Republican ideologies of less government, less taxes, he did not go into specifics about exactly what programs he would cut.”

Obama, too, had trouble expressing his vision for the next four years, Ellis said.

“As always, he is every effective in talking about people’s needs and wanting to help, but I’m not sure his ideas resonated in the same way that they did four years ago,” Ellis said. “How could it, after all? He did speak in more details than Romney.”

No one threw a knockout punch, Ellis said.

“I suspect that Democrats will think Obama won,” he said. “Just as Republicans will think Romney won. The question is, how will that sliver of undecideds move? We’ll have to see.”

Republican was polished

Michael Nailor, who last spring won the Outstanding Speech Education Award after leading his Danville High team to the Pennsylvania High School Speech League State Championship at Susquehanna University, said he looked at the debate from an all together different perspective.

“I’ll leave to the fact-checkers whether they were speaking the truth or not,” he said late Wednesday night.

“I can say that both gentlemen showed they are highly intelligent and had a good grasp of the issues,” Nailor said.

Strictly from the perspective of body language, Nailor thought Romney was “smoother, more polished. He focused more on the camera than the president did.”

Nailor also said that Romney effectively used an old debaters trick of sticking to certain factoids and repeating them over and over again.

“Whether those facts were true or not, I can’t say,” Nailor said.

He said Obama’s personal style, of hesitating while he talked, contrasted with Romney’s.

“When the president talked about people he’s met along the way, he was effective in looking into the camera and I think he connected with people,” Nailor said.

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