PIERRO: Debates Could Be a Game Changer
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 20:10
With the first presidential debate just a day away, Mitt Romney and President Obama are preparing to spar with each other on issues ranging from education policy to Medicare reform. Although in the lead, Obama should not let that edge detract from the quality of the debate. These upcoming debates are potential game changers and even the slightest errors may provide huge advantages for either candidate.
The debates provide an especially important opportunity for Romney, who must find a way to revitalize a campaign weakened by gaffes and show why he and his party think Obama is out of touch and has hindered economic recovery.
Yes, I could certainly list the Obama administration’s accomplishments. He passed the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid and championed a stimulus package to jumpstart economic recovery. At face value, these political undertakings are great. But Romney, from the very beginning of the Wednesday debate, must subject great scrutiny towards — and provide alternatives in lieu of — the policies the Obama administration has lauded over the past four years.
In my opinion, these debates could not have come soon enough. They offer a sense of insulation from normal politicking. While Facebook posts castigating Ann Romney for wearing Oscar de la Renta are both amusing and distracting, the debates are forums for a legitimate policy discussion that we have thus far failed to have. We will put aside ad campaigns that are nothing more than character assassinations of the opposing candidates and instead get a chance to hear Obama defend his economic and domestic policy initiatives and evaluate the alternatives extolled by Romney.
I think Obama’s goal will be much more offensive than that of Romney’s. He must appeal to his most skeptical critics and he must prove that if elected for another term, he will achieve full economic recovery. If he fails at revitalizing the image of hope and change that resonated so well in 2008, he risks securing the votes of moderates and independents. Not to mention, the youth vote is projected to be far lower than in 2008, yet he must continue to appeal to students like you and me.
Republicans, on the other hand, will scrutinize the healthcare legislation, unemployment, government spending and sluggish economic recovery. Keep in mind although these are issues that have divided the nation. Appealing to these key policy points and the more salient disappointments of the Obama administration may draw more sympathy to the Romney campaign.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) argued on Meet the Press that “the entire narrative of this race is going to change” after these debates. While there may be some truth to this, I think that after the debate, Romney will not lead the election, but he will certainly tighten up the race.
However, Obama can lose his edge in the approval ratings just as fast as he gained them. I am confident that Romney’s charisma and oratory skills will help close the gap between Romney and Obama. And then at that point, the race will truly begin on a level playing field.
Daniel Pierro is a sophomore in the College.