The first of three presidential candidate debates is now in the books and, as I mentioned earlier, the debates are a critical element of the US election campaign process. While there may not have been a knock-out punch thrown, there were enough points scored by Mitt Romney to give him some momentum heading into the last weeks of the campaign.
President Barack Obama could take a few lessons from hockey greats like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. It has often been said that what outstanding hockey players do when they don’t have the puck is as important as what they do with it. When they don’t have possession of the puck they draw defenders away from their teammates and open up the ice; they tie up one, perhaps two opposing players, and they position themselves so that if the puck does come to them they are in a good place to score or set up a teammate.
What does this have to do with Obama and the debate? He has to work on what he does and doesn’t do when Romney is speaking – i.e. when Obama doesn’t “have the puck”. Last night he seemed to tune out Romney, scowl a bit and take notes – or was he doing a crossword puzzle? He didn’t look like he wanted to be there defending his policies and attacking his opponent. He was aloof and if that is just his personality, he needs to work on it while debating.
… it wasn’t the best atmospherics for Obama to look down, purse his lips, appear distracted, while Romney was attentive, engaged, relaxed. – Jeff Greenfield – Yahoo! News
Other debaters have suffered similar criticisms: George H.W. Bush looked at his watch while Bill Clinton spoke and was lambasted for being impatient instead of listening to his opponent. Al Gore kept heaving sighs as George W. Bush made points – over acted exaggerated sighs at that.
Obama needs to be in the debate even when Romney is speaking. Show some interest but don’t scoff, be aggressive but not rude, listen attentively but don’t just stare down at the podium.
If nothing else this close debate will make the next one even more interesting. As for Biden and Ryan in the vice presidential candidates debate next week, this is where we might see a punch thrown – literally!!