Everyone was calling the President’s performance in Wednesday’s debate lackluster. It turns out, even the president himself agrees. After some grumbling reported by staff, the next day presented a President who had shifted gears.
His staff reported finding the President studying his own debate performance, with him commenting on his dark, grim demeanor. In split-screen the more casual Mitt Romney against a grim and brooding President was the clear bright spot. Instead of throwing blame, or feeling sorry for himself, he threw himself into examining how to improve his performance.
After a conference with his inner circle — David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Anita Dunn, Ron Klain and Jim Messina — a strategy was laid out before them: they would go after Romney’s blatant lies, his distortions, and his mitt-flops. Romney had put himself into a position where he revealed himself as a two-faced liar who would say anything to win, and the President will be using that image to his advantage.
One can see this change in Obama’s stump speech on Thursday:
The change in focus for the President only means storm clouds on the horizon for the revitalized Romney campaign. If the former Governor goes into the next debate assuming that he will find it as much a cakewalk as the first, he is likely to find himself in for a very severe shock.
Presidential debates with a sitting president typically do go against the incumbent, with only Clinton bucking that trend. Looking back at history, it is easy to forget that Walter Mondale crushed Ronald Reagan at their first debate in 1984: