2012 Townhall Debate… Who Won?

This is a very difficult sentence to write because I wanted so badly for a somewhat different outcome… but I believe Barack Obama may have come out with a win in tonight’s Townhall debate. Yes, you read that right. I believe Barack Obama won this debate.

I make that personal (opinion based) observation not for the traditional algorithm of substance vs style, but for the fact that CNN/the media used the evening to give themselves political ammunition in shaping the narrative moving forward.

Let’s be clear. The media, for two weeks now, has acted as a chicken with its head cut clean off. Running in hysterical circles in attempts to provide reason for Obama’s sudden slide across the board. Biden held his ground in the VP debate, but his mannerisms ruined any gains he may have grabbed through carefully crafted spin. The VP debate wasn’t enough to help the media machine get back into its perch of malicious and disingenuous offense. They’ve been stuck in a constant and desperate need for positive narratives.

Tonight they got what they needed. Through planted questions, strategic time management by CNN’s hack moderator, and a complete ignorance of the biggest issues of our time, CNN and their allies in the media will be able to spin this slug fest in to a “bounce back” for Obama. The “got his game back” narrative will soak newspapers, TV sets and evening primetime news for days to come. At a time when there are just 500 hours between us and the opening of the polls.

None of this is a result of a sound Obama debate performance, because it was all but. No, this is all because of a choreographed biased debate created for the sole purpose of keeping Obama in a position of strength, even though he mostly operated from a position of weakness.

Will it work? Time will certainly tell. While we all beat on media (rightfully so) the truth is media is enormously influential and powerful. Punch lines and talking points are often times the only pieces of information average voters are able to consume.  The last debate left media scrambling for cover, finding only a cloud of confusion to hide behind. This time they’ve got ammunition and they’re going to fire it with everything they’ve got.

In terms of substance, Romney definitely wins. Romney stumbled a few times and missed a lot of opportunities, but he at least has new ideas and an actual plan. We can criticize parts of his plans, but at least he comes to the tables with new ideas. Obama, on the other hand, is completely void of solutions.

Obama’s weakest point of the evening, in my view, was his total unwillingness to address the Libya debacle. Had their been a real unbiased debate moderator, that moment would have crushed Obama because he has no answer and he knows he lied about it. Unfortunately for America, Crowley not only let Obama move on, she showed him the escape hatch.

On style, I might be inclined to go with a tie. That said, I think Romney came off as a little awkward and stiff at times. I know/believe this is because he was sincerely processing every word said and I think Romney is trying to engage on his ideas. This often times leads him to stiffen up and it shows. Obama, on the other hand, had swagger and was able to carry himself as calm and cool… for at least the first 60% of the debate.

In the traditional sense, Romney might have won this debate. But in the grand scheme of how the debate will be used to the advantage of one candidate over another, Obama will take the belt.

The next debate is on foreign policy… and Romney should be able to put the nail in the coffin. Provided he doesn’t again get beaten by the media machine that will surely try and set him up again.

My two.

-Eric Odom

Author: Eric Odom

Eric Odom is a tea party activist and self-described libertarian-minded political analyst. Eric is the Managing Director of the Liberty News Network and works as political advisor for Patriot Super PAC. Follow Eric on Twitter @ericjodom & on Facebook @Eric Odom

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  • Obama failed to answer any question without descending to rhetoric and the same old scripted answers he’s used in every speech for the past year… but he didn’t really answer any of the questions.

  • Tracy

    I think the winner was whoever you were cheering for. I am not sure either one did much to win over the undecided, but Romney did have some strong points. But, if someone doesn’t pay attention to politics, it was a matter of hearing what you wanted. I didn’t see any clear winner tonight.

    • Well, I certainly wasn’t cheering for Obama.

  • Rene Cross

    If you consider defending failed policies, I guess he won, however he did not win. Romney had substance and passion in his responses. romney won the debate.

  • Bryan Pettengill

    Well said…(written) I believe Candy Obama won.

    • Most will disagree with me, but most are using Tracy’s strategy in determining who they think won.


  • GayLynn Bratton

    The American people are smarter than you are giving them credit for being. People are tired of these failed policies.

  • Ryan

    I must respectfully disagree. While obama improved dramatically from his dismal first appearance, I feel that Romney called him on his bullstuff on several key issues. The Benghazi gaffe was big and I liked how Romney asked that it be secured on the record like this was a court of law and obama was caught perjuring himself. Romney hammered him on the most important issues, namely the economy and unemployment. The one area I think Romney should have fired back harder on was on the energy issue. obama made several claims that needed to be clarified for their validity. Romney could have done more on that issue.

    We knew the moderator was going to act how she was going to act. We cannot control her behavior or the questions they allowed. But Romney stood firm on most of the big issues. I scored it as a 52-48 Romney win by TKO.

  • Ed

    Obama showed anger which in my opinion is lack of control. Obama, when cornered became interruption and again expressed a demeanor of anger.

  • Pierce

    I, for one, am sick of the debates being moderated by LIBERAL DEMOCRATS who are totally in the tank for Obama.
    Also, most or ALL of the alleged “undecided voters” in tonight’s debate were democrat activists, I can tell just by looking at them and listening to them speak. Also, they all had trouble reading their card, which supposedly had questions THEY asked!
    And thirdly, Obama WAS given the questions in advance, I can tell by his responses.

  • Chris

    I love reading spin, thanks!
    “strategic time management by CNN’s hack moderator” = each person had the same amount of time, and “hack moderator”? really, because she wouldn’t let Mitt do what he wants?

    And says, “a choreographed biased debate created for the sole purpose of keeping Obama in a position of strength, even though he mostly operated from a position of weakness.”
    biased debate? in what way? a question about abortion or marriage equality would have been a great question for Obama – but they never came.

    This made me laugh hardest:
    “In terms of substance, Romney definitely wins. Romney stumbled a few times and missed a lot of opportunities, but he at least has new ideas and an actual plan.” Just seeing the words Romney and substance in the same sentence is enough to elicit a guffaw. If by ‘substance’ you mean a combination of ‘stuff I made up’ (check politifact) and answers that don’t answer the question (his answer about wage equality was that he’s hired women before in an affirmative action sort of way).

    Thank you for the example of a highly biased piece about perceived bias!

  • Steve Elliott

    Good analysis. For the media, it was an Obama win. But that is because it was a debate structured for Obama to win.

    The only thing undecided about most of the questioners was they were undecided as to what time of day on Election Day they would be voting for Obama. Most of the questions were mostly irrelevant to the main national debate and this election which is a referendum on Obama.

    The “inside game” of the debate was when Obama was going to drop the “47 percent” bomb. Clearly that was saved for the closing, and Romney knew it and muted it. In fact, Obama’s close was so predictable and cowardly that Romney could have said, “In a few moments. the President will attempt to throw me under the bus for a comment his campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars on to take out of context. I won’t take him out of context, because the real context of what his policies are doing to our families is already desperate enough.”

    In the short run, Obama may have “won” but it was a shallow, cowardly victory. And I think in the longer view to Election Day, viewers once again took away from the debate that the country will do just fine under President Romney. And that’s really all that America needs to see in an election which is a referendum on a failed presidency.

  • Larry

    When Obama was questioned about the turn down of the extra security at Benghazi, he never answered the question. Instead, he acted like he was pissed and proceeded to lecture the person who had dared to ask him that kind of question. If I had been the person that asked the question, I think I would have to confront him for not answering the question. After all, Obama works for us, not the other way around.

  • Gary

    @Chris…….It has been confirmed that Obama had almost 3 minutes more speaking time than Romney! Liberal moderators can’t seem to help themselves in helping Obama…..Crowley did just that when she “lied” by saying Obama did state that he said that it was a terrorist attack in Libya the next day after the attack on our US embassy! Facts prove otherwise! Also, Romney DID provide detalis and substance! Your liberally diseased mind however can not process facts/reality with delusions/lies. Perfect example: You likely voted for the “messiah” in 2008 when Obama provided all those “facts” when he said one phrase…..”Hope & Change!” With those startling facts, YOU fell for the “Pied-Piper” hook, line & sinker! LMAO!