OBAMA CAN COME BACK AFTER FIRST DEBATE DEBACLE, Says Democratic Strategist Robert Weiner in Washington Times Column

Oct 13, 2012, 00:37 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "President Obama can come back after the first debate debacle," says national Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House spokesman Robert Weiner in a Washington Times oped column just out.

Weiner states, "President Obama's inexplicable silence in the first debate has led to a large bump for Mitt Romney – now slightly ahead according to the Pew poll -- and the game-changer Democrats were convinced would not happen. The Saturday Night Live parodies were predictable—Obama mute against Romney's assertions, Obama becoming the Eastwood empty chair. For all my love of the President, it was bad, really bad."

Weiner says that his wife and coincidentally happened to stay at the Westin Lake Las Vegas around Obama's three-night debate prep stay.  They were organizing an event in neighboring Las Vegas and wanted the away-from-it lake and mountain scenery the hotel offered, so they stayed there before and after their event.

"We could not resist asking hotel staffers what they thought of the President," Weiner says. "Very nice guy," said a hotel security staffer. Without prompting, the hotel staff member added, "We relaxed him too much."  Another hotel staffer, a bellman, said, again with no prompting, "We hope it wasn't the hotel's fault."  That's how obvious the poor performance was.

Weiner contends the performance may also have been attributable to the President's choice of debate stand-in. Weiner asserts, "If Obama wanted to learn how to win a debate, not just expound policy, he needed someone like James Carville or Paul Begala as his debate stand-in opponent, rather than Kerry, who is renowned for long, long sentences. The President learned too well.  If he preferred to practice against an elected official, he could have gone against Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, who wowed the last two Democratic conventions with punchy, pithy points."

Weiner says that "President Obama let Romney get away with everything.  He should have countered 'trickle down government' with 'Trickle-down economics hasn't worked since Hoover' (and should actually have used something like that first before Romney stole the 'trickle down' line and said 'government')." 

"When Romney compared the $5 Trillion tax cuts assertion to 'my five boys saying something that's not always true but just keep repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it,' it was a perfect opening for the President to retort, 'But you have proposed a 20% across-the board tax cut.  You can't have a family, or America, headed by a magician who miraculously pulls a rabbit out of a hat -- money does not grow on the trees of rich tax cuts.  When you refuse to say where you will get the deductions and loopholes to pay for your cut, the American people recognize blue smoke and mirrors and want real answers, not a secret plan that can make them bankrupt.  Mitt, how much would you cut deductions for home mortgages, or charities, or health benefits that Americans need and which help our economy—and don't say 'tell you later'?'"

Likewise, says Weiner, "On Social Security, it was inexcusable for the President to say 'we think alike' instead of 'Republicans have been pressing for privatization for years.' As for the Medicare $716 billion cut, it was amazing the President did not point out that his cut was against insurance company overcharging and the money went to seniors' drug 'doughnut hole' coverage and adding years to Medicare's solvency, whereas the Republicans voted to cut actual benefits."

Weiner believes that "if Obama had a few good lines like that, it would have been an even performance, given that Romney was masterful on rhetoric." 

Weiner says that "With two more debates, Obama can and will come back— if he revamps his attack. Vice President Joe Biden's performance against GOP challenger Paul Ryan will not count anywhere near as much as Obama's own."

He concludes, "In 2000, Al Gore won the first debate by 15 points and lost the next two and the election (aside from Florida).  Now, the jobs picture is improving, bin Laden is dead, and Americans overwhelmingly support leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.  So President Obama and the Democrats still have some cards -- if they learn how to play them."

Source: Robert Weiner Associates

Contact: Bob Weiner/Richard Mann 301-283-0821 or 202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates