By Teresa Welsh |
As kids we liked to play a game that involved two big, clunky brightly-colored plastic robots standing toe-to-toe trying to knock each other's heads off. Last night, former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama squared off in the presidential debate version of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots at Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y.
After the first debate ,when President Obama even admitted that he was "too polite," Romney tried to replicate his president-interrupting, moderator-dominating, fact-ignoring style in the second presidential debate, but it didn't play as well. He came off as rude when arguing with debate moderator Candy Crowley over the rules. He roamed the debate floor like a boxer, using his body to cut off half the ring from his opponent, but the president refused to be cornered. This time President Obama joined the fray, looking Romney directly in the eye, squaring up with him during contested points and engaging in the most frenetic exchange of hand gesturing I've ever seen in a presidential debate. At one point the two men were so close it looked like somebody might actually get slapped. It was what the kids in my old Detroit neighborhood might call "gully."
Republicans often underestimate Obama and it seems Romney fell into that trap last night. The former Massachusetts governor wasn't ready to handle the jabs the president was eager to throw. It is at if he forgot Obama came up the hard way. Forget about Columbia and Harvard, the man is the son of a single mother raised in great part by grandparents, without familial connections to cash in for jobs or school admissions. He paid for college and law school with scholarships and student loans and cut his professional and political teeth on the roughneck South Side of Chicago. Ten years ago, Obama was a failed congressional candidate sitting on the back benches of the Illinois state senate and today he is running for his second term as president of the United States. As Bill Clinton would say, if you see a turtle on a fence post, it didn't get there by accident.
While some viewers may have been put off by the rock 'em sock 'em nature of the candidate's exchange, nobody wants a president who is too soft. Last night President Obama proved he has a plan for his second term and was willing to stand up for himself. That strength will serve him well.
About Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University