Debate night recap: It's the economy, Big Bird

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after the first presidential debate. The night focused on numbers, tax cuts, and deficits, the takeaway discussion points may well end as Big Bird and moderator Jim Lehrer.

From this journalist's viewing (in the bubble of a newsroom and Twitter), it seemed to me as if in the last two minutes of tonight's presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the candidates reversed the roles they'd be playing for most of the night.

President Obama, mired in numbers and playing a lot of defense, tried to finally find his humanity. He talked about autoworkers, young people, fairness, and his promise to fight for regular Americans. He attempted humility with his line about not having done the best job, but he’d sure keep trying.

Gov. Romney went for his philosophy of freedom, and then threw out a lot of numbers in his closing remarks, having gone for the human connection in his opening. He tossed out dollar figures for Medicare cuts and promised 12 million job gains. He also took a swipe at Big Bird and moderator Jim Leher, promising to cut funding for public broadcasting. Those dire predictions might remain in voters’ minds because the President couldn’t come back and muddy the waters with counterclaims.

But maybe Romney didn’t need to seal the deal with a final soulful appeal. Maybe he’d already made his connection. And maybe Obama came back to it late in the game because he hadn’t.


Missed the debate? Read our archived live blog.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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