On Oct. 3, Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama engaged in the first of three scheduled presidential debates. Governor Romney performed surprisingly well and seemed much more focused and energized than President Obama. CBS and CNN opinion polls show that a majority of debate-watchers feel that Romney won the debate. Even President Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager admitted Romney won the debate on “preparation” and “style.”
This clear victory comes as a real shock to many who have been keeping up with the Romney campaign; a campaign notoriously riddled with gaffes, embarrassments, and inconsistencies. But how did Romney manage to score such a major win?
There were several factors to Romney’s victory, but perhaps the most important of which was his decision to ignore or dismiss facts.
Several of his key talking points have already been debunked.
Such as his claim that the Congressional Budget Office said we’ll have trillion dollar deficits for the next 4 years under Obama. But in fact, if we follow the budget constraints Obama wishes to implement in 2013, the budget deficit is projected at $641 billion, in 2014 it’s $387 billion, in 2015 it’s $213 billion and in 2016 it’s $186 billion. “Yes these are all deficits, but not close to the number,” Romney said.
There’s also the repeated talking point that “Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning website, Politifact, has previously debunked this claim, rating it “mostly false.” Politifact also debunked two more major Romney talking points, one being that “Obamacare puts in place a board that tells people what kind of treatments they can receive” and the claim that “20 million people will lose their insurance when Obamacare goes into effect.”
Romney also made some contradictory statements on education after Obama attacked him on it. Romney replied to an attack by Obama by stating “I’m not going to cut education funding or grants on people going to college.” This is a direct contradiction of statements he made earlier this year saying that he plans to either consolidate the Department of Education or make it “a heck of a lot smaller.”
Romney also made a variety of bold claims regarding his own policy plans which lacked substance or detail. He repeatedly reassured the public that his tax plan would cut taxes while remaining revenue-neutral (meaning without decreasing or increasing revenue) without providing details as to how he would go about doing so. He also stated he would replace Dodd-Frank (the Wall Street Reform Act) and the Affordable Healthcare Act, but again remained vague on what he would replace them with.
Obama, on the other hand, kept things reasonably down-to-earth and fact-based. His statement claiming that health care premium growth has been the slowest in 50 years was misphrased but is certainly based in truth. Healthcare spending is increasing at the slowest rate in 50 years and healthcare premium growth is the lowest it has been in 14 years. His claims that Romney plans to add $2 trillion to the defense budget that “the military hasn’t asked for” and that his signing of trade deals has helped doubleU.S.exports, are accurate. One of Obama’s biggest hits against Romney was with the fact that there are “loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. “Romney dismissed it as nonsense, saying “Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.” This is relatively well known; in fact, the “Bring Jobs Home Act”, which was stalled by Senate Republicans, specifically set out to remove this deduction. Maybe Romney does need a new accountant.
While Romney did make some accurate statements, including his attack on the high rates of unemployment, and Obama did make some blunders, such as his claim that Romney’s tax cuts totaled $5 trillion (they do, but only over the course of 10 years), it’s quite clear who had the lion’s share of inaccurate statements.
Whether these inaccuracies will come back to haunt Romney is up to the American public and the American media, both of whom seem less interested in the truth, and more interested in presentation.