With the obits of his campaign all but written, Mitt Romney defies expectations and turns in a lifetime performance in the first presidential debate with rival Barack Obama. Suddenly, it's a new race.
The final month of the 2012 presidential race just got more interesting.
By turning in a stronger debate performance than President Obama – the instant post-game consensus of Republicans, Democrats, and voters themselves – GOP nominee Mitt Romney has injected new life into a campaign that had nearly been given up for dead, despite only a slim deficit in polls.
Here’s a new poll to consider: A CNN/ORC survey of 430 Americans who had watched the debate, taken immediately after its conclusion, found that 67 percent said Mr. Romney performed better, versus only 25 percent for Mr. Obama. The likelihood of Obama’s reelection, as measured by the online betting market Intrade, plunged from 74 percent before the debate to 66 percent Thursday morning.
Even some of Obama’s strongest supporters were brutal in their assessments, even before the debate had ended.
“I can't believe I'm saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter,” tweeted comedian Bill Maher, who has donated $1 million to the biggest pro-Obama "super political-action committee."
Immediately after the debate, Obama spokespeople appeared subdued in TV interviews. But by the morning after, the campaign was back on offense, accusing Romney of lying throughout the debate.
“When the dust settles, Romney's dozen flat-out falsehoods will be the only thing remaining from his debate performance – because avoiding the truth has been the very definition of Romney's candidacy, and he can't escape that with a single smooth appearance,” the Obama campaign said in an introduction to a videotape replaying the alleged lies.
The Romney campaign, for its part, released a new TV ad Thursday morning pounding home the central message of his debate performance: That he is all about job creation.
“Through his policies including tax reform, expanding trade and cracking down on China, he’ll create over 12 million new jobs and get our country back on track,” the Romney campaign said in its statement about the ad.