For a president to go into a debate without doing some serious training is like a boxer going into the ring without having sparred or worked out.
Last night was a bad one for President Obama in the first 2012 presidential debate in Denver. Without having debated for four years, having had few press conferences, and not being pressed by the mainstream media, Obama was not ready for the challenge of taking serious policy questions.
Plus, there were no teleprompters in the room. Just moderator Jim Lehrer delivering the topic and letting Obama and challenger Mitt Romney go at it.
After it was over, most scorecards had Republican Mitt Romney the clear winner. One veteran news commentator went as far as to call it "the great Rocky Mountain beat down."
Even Liberal comedian Bill Maher, who has donated $1 million to Obama's super PAC, tweeted "i can't believe i'm saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter."
Most analysts had Romney well ahead on both style and substance. His was relentless in attacking Obama's handling of health care, energy, taxes and global economics. While effectively dissecting Obama's failed policies of the last four years, Romney presented his own plans, which stress less government and more private enterprise.
Throughout the debate, Romney showed a deeper knowledge of the issues, proving to viewers that with his strong business background, he is a problem-solver.
He even had a good zinger for Obama's failed green energy investments, stating: "Don't forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years worth of breaks into solar and wind to solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesler and I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers."
Another memorable Romney quote was, "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane, your own house, but not your own facts."
Romney even had a humorous line for debate moderator Jim Lehrer, a veteran anchor for PBS. During the debate, he promised to cut off federal subsidies to the network, stating, "I love PBS, I love Big Bird. I like you, too, Jim."
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, one of the president's strongest critics, said afterward that Romney's performance was "solid across the board."
"The people now know why the country's in trouble, why we have 8-plus percent unemployment and 23 million unemployed," Sununu said. "It's because we have a president that has no idea what's going on and no idea how to fix things and, frankly, no idea about his own programs or Gov. Romney's programs."
One Romney answer bolstered Sununu's contention that the president was out of touch on global economics. Romney challenged Obama's assertion that under the Republican's administration, businesses would receive a deduction for taking a plant overseas.
"Listen, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about," Romney lectured Obama. "I maybe need to get a new accountant. The idea that you get a break for taking jobs overseas is simply not the case."
It was the perfect answer, highlighting Romney's strong business background and his firm grasp of the issue while also underlining the fact that this president has no clue on how to restore America's economic standing as leader in the global community.
The president doesn't have time to stew over the Rocky Mountain beat down. The next debate is a town hall format at Hofstra University on Oct. 16.
And again, with no teleprompters, the president won't have an opportunity to recite the list of scripted talking points he's been giving on the campaign trail.
By Jim Zbick