By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Although former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney clearly bested President Obama in the first of three televised debates, some experts are questioning whether too much emphasis is being placed on style rather than substance.
Angela Minor, director of the Martin L. King, Jr. Forensics Program and debate team at Howard University, asked rhetorically: “Are we praising antics and sound bites and ignoring integrity and the truth?”
Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said many of those who expected President Obama to be combative in his showdown with Romney were unrealistic.
He’s the president. He’s not a pit bull,” Butterfield said. “Obama is an intellectual, he’s the president of the United States and he’s not going to get into the gutter and have a mud fight.”
But it was a mud fight – even if a one-sided one.
MSNBC “Hardball” anchor Chris Matthews said, “I loved the split screen, [Gov. Romney] staring at Obama, addressing him, like the prey. [Romney] did it just right. ‘I’m coming at an incumbent. I’ve got to beat him. You gotta beat the champ, and I’m gonna beat him tonight. And I don’t care what this guy moderator, whatever he thinks he is, because I’m going to ignore him.’ What was Romney doing? He was winning.”
A CNN/ORC quick poll of 430 people who tuned into the first presidential debate found that 67 percent said Romney won the match.
Not everyone was surprised.
“Mitt Romney has been doing this. That’s one advantage that he has,” said Janaye Ingram, Washington D.C. bureau chief of the National Action Network. “He had a lot of debates during the Republican Primary.”
What he said in the first debate might come back to haunt him, however.
During the debate, Gov. Romney disavowed his Massachusetts health care plan, which served as the model for President Obama’s landmark health legislation.
“Now Mitt Romney is tied to what he said in this first debate,” said Ingram, who heads Al Sharpton’s Washington operations. “He has to own ’Romneycare’ now.”
Many Obama supporters wanted him to zing Romney. They remember one-liners from the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
In Charlotte, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said, “… In Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator, and the workers get the shaft!” Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor, declared, “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”
Lorenzo Morris, chairman of the Political Science Department at Howard University, observed, “The problem with being presidential is you can’t do a lot of that stuff.”
Perhaps not in a debate, but certainly on the campaign trail. After the debate, Obama mocked Romney’s comment: “I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too.”
At a rally at Cleveland State University Friday, Obama said Romney is “finally getting tough on Big Bird. Rounding him up. Elmo’s got to watch out, too.”
Photo By: ew.com