President Barack Obama executed a weak presentation in the first of three presidential debates with Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman/

My first impression of the debate tonight between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was that the Republicans will be very happy that their man “took it to Obama.” They will be relieved that finally their candidate stood up to the President and challenged his policies. Never mind that the challenge was not governed by facts, truth or even Romney’s previously stated positions.

Thursday is a new day for Romney’s his campaign, and all the missteps of the past months are in the past. The only thing that is important now is the next 35 days.

About one minute after the closing statements, my brother called me from Philadelphia. He said one word – smoked. He said that President Obama looked defeated. He missed more than one opportunity to challenge Romney’s assertions about the $716 billion in Medicare savings. Obama  failed to bring up Bain, the auto industry rescue or the 47 percent comments that Romney made and did not remind people that bi-partisanship requires willing partners who believe in compromise.

It seemed as if Romney’s tactical approach to the debate was developed recognizing that most Americans watching the debate do not follow the day to day ups and downs and details of the campaign and won’t know the difference between facts and non-facts. Consequently, in memorized paragraphs of responses that contained lots of specific data presented as facts, Romney included multiple falsities (lies) in each paragraph and made certain key words and phrases such as – 10th amendment – were included to nod to his base.

The President was overwhelmed by these responses and could not possibly have challenged all of them in the allotted time, thus left a lot of falsities unchallenged. Romney ended up appearing to be presidential, of having a mastery of the issues and offering a credible alternative to President Obama’s policies. There is no joy in the Obama camp tonight. I wonder what Michelle is saying.

Now that Romney will have some momentum going into the weekend, and the Sunday talk shows, the next debate between the Vice Presidential candidates will have real value. Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, we have a race!

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