BY FRED BARNES –
Too bad for President Obama that he saved his aggressive performance for his second debate with Mitt Romney. If he had done as well in the first debate, the presidential race might look different today.
But it doesn’t. That Obama was stronger last night doesn’t mitigate the dire effects of the first nationally televised clash with Romney on Oct. 3. It’s the first debate that matters most. It usually has the biggest audience. It sets the stage for the subsequent debates and indeed for the rest of the campaign. And in that debate, the president was a zombie. That’s hard to overcome.
For a decisive comeback, Obama needed a weak performance—and probably a gaffe or two—by Romney. He didn’t get that. Instead, the same passionate and focused Romney who buried Obama in the first debate showed up again.
Yes, Obama had his moments. Whenever he discussed Romney’s wealth, taxes, and alleged favoritism for the rich over the middle class, he scored. But there were too few of those. More often than not, Romney was able to counter Obama’s charges.