Barack Obama hasn’t been in a high-stakes, nationally televised presidential debate in nearly four years. Mitt Romney was in plenty of them over the past 18 months. Last night, it showed.
Heading into yesterday’s encounter at the University of Denver, polls showed that voters by a wide margin were expecting Obama to win the three debates he and Romney have agreed to. But not only did the president fail to knock out his challenger last night, there were long stretches when it wasn’t even clear he had remembered to lace up his gloves. On issue after issue, exchange after exchange, Romney was focused, clear, interesting, and engaged, while Obama repeatedly came across as distracted, irritated, and vague. The former Massachusetts governor was plainly enjoying himself. The president seemed to want nothing more than to run out the clock and bring a painful evening to an end.