Was tonight’s debate a turning point in the campaign? Republicans believe it was, and that’s important. Republicans believe Romney won and they’re energized. The money that was fleeing Romney in the last several weeks is going to come back. Romney’s campaign was collapsing until tonight, and now it’s not collapsing anymore. He’s got a second wind. That’s huge.
CBS snap poll of undecided voters: 46% believe Romney won, 22% say Obama won, 32% say it was a tie. CNN snap poll of registered voters who watched the debate: 67% say Romney won, 25% say Obama won.
A crucial point to watch for tomorrow, thanks to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC: the question tomorrow will be whether Romney gets slammed for making stuff up or Obama will get slammed for letting Romney getting away with it. Some examples: Romney said Obama shouldn’t raise taxes on the rich – after all, he opposed raising them a year ago when the economy was in trouble and hey, it’s still in trouble. Actually, Obama wanted to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich only and the GOP blocked him, insisted on saving all the Bush cuts or none of them. The notion that Obama made a judgment call not to raise taxes last year is simply false, and Obama let it slide.
Romney said he doesn’t want the government deciding what healthcare he can get. Right now insurance companies decide what care you can get. Romney said it’s a bad idea to raise taxes because it will kill job growth, while lower taxes will create jobs and generate new tax revenue to close the deficit. Clinton raised taxes, got enormous job growth and closed the deficit. Reagan lowered taxes, got job growth and exploded the debt. Bush lowered taxes and got listless job growth and exploded the debt even more. Obama just didn’t parry any of Romney’s points. Romney was sharp and Obama wasn’t. He was convoluted, sleepy and unresponsive.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).