Mitt Romney used only one "zinger" in Denver against President Obama: "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own plane and your own house, but you're not entitled to your own facts." He used this at the end of the debate, as if he thought he had done well, so he might as well take a chance with it. He dominated President Obama during the debate on all fronts, from body language to preparation to command of the issues facing the country, to discussion of individual families and their needs.
Romney clearly won on the body language and demeanor front. He never altered his demeanor in any regard, keeping his eye on the President for every debate exchange, with no disrespectful eye-rolls or dismayed expressions.
In contrast, the President appeared to look out at the audience for some type of guidance or support during Romney's answers. He frequently smirked, looked disapproving, or irritated. Not once did he look over at Romney to observe his opponent during his answer. Almost beyond belief, the President's lack of preparation extended to his sartorial choices: He wore a weak-appearing blue tie with small dots, while Romney wore the traditional red striped power tie.
The "average person" watching this debate wouldn't just see a man who "looks like Central Casting would pick him to play the President," in the words of Clint Eastwood, they would see a man fully engaged in the circumstance, with all of his information at immediate command, paying absolute attention to his opponent, and aware of the debate moderation rules like no candidate ever before.
Romney knew he came in facing an adverse situation, with a moderator predisposed for his opponent, and likely facing hostile questioning. This never occurred. Romney commanded the evening from the time he stepped on stage. The tone was set with the President's rambling opening statement, and Romney's focused introduction which immediately featured stories of people in crisis he had met on the campaign trail, including the young mother he'd met at Chipotle in Denver only the day before.
The only personal story offered by the President throughout the debate was one about his grandmother, who, despite being a bank Vice President, was unable to live independently in retirement without social security and Medicare.
I haven't watched every Presidential debate over the past 40 years. I can't compare this debate to others in a thorough manner. Romney appeared as if he cared, deeply, about the country, about our people, and about doing a good job if elected president.
The words of Bill Maher describe President Obama's performance best.
Yes, Bill, he did.
For full analysis and coverage of the debate and how it went down on Wednesday, see here.