Debate Viewers Learn Romney Can be Wonky, Too

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"I'm dumbfounded," said Denton, who has coached mayoral and gubernatorial candidates in debate skills. "I don't understand it from a political perspective, a debate perspective or a strategic perspective, unless it is just do no harm. Let's ride it out and play it safe."

Viewers saw that Romney was willing to take bigger risks. He may have gone too far at least once, declaring he wanted to end federal subsidies for PBS, including even Sesame Street's Big Bird.

"We learned that he wasn't concerned about Big Bird," said Mercieca. "That might be the one thing we remember about this debate."

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