Debate Expectations

by Rich Lowry

Here are my expectations for tonight: I expect Romney at the very least to seem confident and presidential, and to meet the basic threshold test. And he could do much better than that. He proved himself very adept at prosecuting the case against his opponents in the primaries. On the other hand, there’s some downside risk to Romney, too — I rate him as more likely to say something a little tone deaf (along the lines of the $10,000 bet) that is blown into a world-shaking gaffe by the media. I also expect President Obama to be good. Conservatives who consider him lost without a teleprompter are fooling themselves. He’s a talented communicator. The vulnerabilities are his record and his arrogance. If Romney is good (and lucky), he’ll expose the former and in doing so, cause Obama to expose the latter. If I were the president, I’d be very aggressive and use every opportunity to keep Romney explaining things he doesn’t want to (offshore accounts, etc.) so he doesn’t get a clean chance to explain what’s most important for him to get across — the superiority of his program for the country. If Romney can make the case for that program compellingly, he’s going to have a very good night. Finally, I expect the analysis in here to be trenchant and timely.