Presidential Debate and National Debt: How Romney Won, and still got rid of Big Bird

Despite North Carolina going blue in 2008, many polls have shown Romney leading in 2012. However, as November 6th creeps up on us, it is clear that North Carolina is sticking with its reputation as a swing state. After polls showed Obama jumping ahead of Romney last week, this week polls show Romney up 0.7%. To predict this race today now would be to say Tony Romo played well against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

Indeed, North Carolina will go down to the wire as both parties scramble to assemble volunteers and get their message out. In 2008, the entire state of North Carolina was decided by less than 15,000 votes, which whittles down to a mere 5 votes per precinct. Though many see Ohio and Florida as the heavy hitters of swing states, Mitt Romney’s journey to 270 electoral votes looks awfully bleak without carrying North Carolina. If the Old North State doesn’t go red, Romney will have to win Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado to get to 270.

As Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney try to recapture lost ground on their bus-tour in Ohio, they find themselves spread awfully thin. The debate tonight will shed light on whether President Obama will put Romney in a chokehold, or if Romney will start to storm back. Both sides have attempted to downplay the debate: Romney has never stepped foot in the pressure cooker that is the presidential debate, yet President Obama has not had nearly as much debate warm-up this year. Of course, we would all love to see both sides illustrate and describe their policies in detail. However, given the campaign goals to reach more demographics, both candidates will be forced to tread carefully.

For one, we can expect Romney to hit hard on the state of the economy. And surely, Obama knows this tidbit and will be prepared. The real difference will be who can appeal better to the middle class. Obama will be able to strike Romney on social topics as the country remains unsure what Romney actually stands for.

I am going to be updating this post LIVE, with reactions from Wake Forest University students, so please bookmark this page for all the latest millennial reactions!

4:04 P.M.: Everyone on campus is getting amped for this debate! Most students are going to Watch Parties. However, hump-days on campus are known affectionately as Wake Wednesdays, a day to forget its not the weekend. That being said, there will be at least a few students who will be watching the contenders square off with the bonus of a little buzz. 

7:03 P.M.: Top 3 Things To Watch For: 

1) Second Obama Term: What would Barack Obama do if re-elected? Will he come out in favor of changing immigration laws? Push for marriage equality? Reduce military spending to cut the deficit?

2) Mitt Romney, on everything besides the economy: It is no secret Romney subscribes to the idea that lowering taxes, decreasing government regulation, and allowing free markets to flourish is the path to success. But what will be interesting to see is if Romney tries to hit Obama's weak points, or if he will describe innovative solutions of his own. No longer can Romney flip-flop, and if he does, the 83% of likely voters watching will know about it. 

3) Mutual Plans: Both candidates have beaten each other down and tried to exploit the others' vulnerabilities. But on what specific problems can these candidates propose to work with the other side, instead of insulting and belittling them? For example, instead of trashing the social safety net (as the GOP is notorius for) or not doing anything to improve the system (as many have accused the Democrats), is it too much of a pipe dream to think we can work together on this issue rather than push apart?

9:11 P.M.: President Obama:"The question is not where we've been, but where we're going." President Obama finished with stating that the middle class, not the top-down approach of Romney, is what makes America great. Romney was concise in stating his 5 points on getting our economy back in shape, but how is he going to make American education the best in the world if he doesn't want to fund education?

"I know what it takes to get small business going again." That's great, Mitt! Would you care to explain...?

9:13 P.M.: Wake Forest Sophomore Parker Fritz "How is Romney going to cut taxes without adding to the deficit? Is Mitt Mr. Magical?"

9:19 P.M.: Obama calls out Romney on the tax plan he's been running on for the past 18 months but  now says 'nevermind.'

9:33 P.M.: Wake Forest University Senior Gerard Neely "How awkward is Mitt?" After calling out PBS, Big Bird, and the moderator himself, Mitt says his plan is to cut programs that aren't worth borrowing money from China. However, how does this fit into normative judgements such as: should we cut the military? Should we cut education? This is a nice "rule" but unfortunately and unsurprisingly vague.

"HOW MANY TIMES HAS MITT ROMNEY SAID JOBS?"--Sophomore Parker Fritz

9:38 P.M.: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, tweets: "@mcuban: romney is winning because he is throwing out numbers, but he hasnt said anything yet."

9:40 P.M.: Senior Alycia Beverly "How have they (the candidates) not mentioned young people once yet?"

9:50 P.M.: Does Lehrer know what the word moderating means? Dear Lord. Perhaps his spine consists of mostly Jello...

9:57 P.M.: Mitt Romney says he's "sure" he wants to repeal Obamacare, which an executive figure cannot simply do at the snap of the fingers. Oddly enough, Governor Romney's implementation of universal health insurance coverage in Massachussets was the blueprint for Obamacare.

10:20 P.M.: "We're not all white and christian in this country! "--Wake Forest student Sarah Hoyle on Romney's stance on the role of government. Romney reiterated his belief that every American is under the "same Creator."

11:20 P.M.: All in all, many students left the Watch Party with the gut feeling Mitt Romney had the upper hand in the first Presidential debate. Romney started strongly with his 5 points on how he would turn the economy around, and continued a theme throughout the debate of enumerating what he would do. This was an effective measure for presenting himself as one that does have specificity in his ideas. President Obama looked as if he was holding back for much of the debate. To many views, Obama came off as out-of-sync or uncomfortable, or perhaps a mixture of the two. Romney demonstrated a sense of bipartisanship toward the end that helped solidify the notion that he was in the position of superiority. Romney succeeded in making the points he needed to make. For a swing state like Colorado, it wouldn't be surprising to see Mitt get a bump in the polls. The President however is not naive, nor unaware of tonight's circumstances, and should be poised for batlle in the next debate. Despite Romney's display, to say a slew of moderate voters are suddenly convinced Romney is their guy would be a drastic overstatement. This was one of many events within the next five weeks that will eventually determine the outcome.

10/4/2012, 5:24 A.M.: UPDATE: Mitt Romney, in discussing some of his budget cuts: "I'm sorry Jim. I'm gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm gonna stop other things," Romney continued, "I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too." Some critics may use this moment to point out Romney's reputation for awkward interpersonal skills. However, the real issue is that Romney's claim to end things like NPR is relatively inconsequential in an effort to reduce the deficit. First, NPR only relies on federal, state, and local governments for only 4.6% of their total revenue. Secondly, the Bipartisan Deficit Commision stated that eliminating the Coporation for Public Broadcasting (the organization that generally funds NPR and PBS) could save the government $500 million in the year 2015, and of course, everyone wants us to save money. However, the real heavy hitters that are crushing out deficit out of the park are programs that cost government hundreds of billions.

Students at Wake Forest University had the benefit of seeing the Erskine and Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan  just last week--a bipartisan report cited frequently during the Presidential Debate. In their fire-side mannered chat, Simpson declared that "we can no longer afford to be the world's police." Additionally, the pair agreed that military spending is one of the primary contributors to our nation's absurd debt, as it easily tops $750 billion per year. In light of this, the Bipartisan Commission reccomends not only to cut security spending, but to "Require the president to propose annual limits to war spending." 

Not only does Paul Ryan purpose to increase military spending 20% in is Budget Plan, but Mitt Romney has vowed not to lower Defense spending less than 4% of our country's GDP, which in the context of the U.S. economy is huge. Even the ultr-conservative think-tank Cato Institute, thinks the military spending increase is ridiculous: "By pledging to increase the military’s budget above the rate of inflation, Ryan’s basic argument is that the Pentagon’s budget should remain near historic highs in real, inflation-adjusted terms."

So must ask ourselves who is to blame for the deficit; Big Bird, or Big Defense?