Where’s that Teleprompter When You Need It?
By: Michael R. Shannon
Not only did Mitt Romney win the first presidential debate, he was also victorious in the battle of the flag pins. Compared to the horizontal flag pin Obama was wearing, Romney’s looked like the mainsail on a frigate.
Obama’s pin resembled those narrow, black eyeglass frames that geeks and hipsters wear to show their superiority to people who don’t know what “jelly bean” on an Android is. It had the same proportions as the gunport on a pillbox, only smaller.
Romney’s pin, on the other hand, was large enough to contain a mysterious dot that even on HD–TV didn’t have enough detail to allow one to identify it. Had the debate been in Orlando, I would have assumed it was Mickey Mouse, but Denver is not associated with any cartoon characters, unless you include Gov. Hickenlooper. Turns out that Romney’s pin is the one worn by members of the Secret Service and it was given to him by an agent on his protective detail.
I suppose Obama’s Secret Service detail thought it more fitting to give him golf tees or a bank bag, either of which would have looked out of place at the debate. And speaking of out of place, where do you think Obama would have rather been last night? He spent most of the evening looking like a petulant celebrant missing his big 20th wedding anniversary shindig.
The audience thought it was a joke when Obama began his opening statement promising Michelle they would not be celebrating next year’s anniversary on a debate stage. But based his frowny–face during the split–screen shots when Romney was talking, I think he was serious. He looked testy and put–upon all evening.
It was evident the Obama hadn’t faced any hostile questions from anyone during the past four years, assuming you overlook Michelle’s demanding when he intends to quit smoking.
The “yowza boss” attitude of the White House press corps is not conducive to making one fast on his feet. Nor is becoming an alternate cast member of ‘The View.’ Maybe his schedule for the day read “9PM: slo–jamming the debate with your PBS homies,” because he was woefully unprepared.
Ann Romney may not like the questioning the campaign and her husband have undergone this year, but it sure made him sharper on his feet. Mitt was even mildly humorous at times, although he had a tendency to step on his own laugh lines. He needs to pause a beat after the punch line to give the audience time to respond. He could have made the “changing insurance companies” comment into a punch line and made himself look more like a regular guy, with just a bit of work. And Mitt went too fast when he accused Obama of only picking losers, so the impact was damaged. Unfortunately every comedian in the country appears to be on the Obama team, so it’s hard for Mitt to rehearse. I wonder what Drew Carey is doing?
Currently Obama spinmeisters are complaining about the replacement referee, er moderator. But the fact is when Obama the moderator and drones on FIVE MINUTES longer than Romney, yet still loses the debate, your candidate and your campaign are in a world of hurt.
As a result, I predict the Obama campaign will demand changes in the ground rules for debates two and three. First and foremost David Axelrod will be in charge of the visuals. This means no more cutaway shots or split–screen views when Romney is speaking. Obama will be able to chew Nicorette and stamp his foot with the audience none the wiser.
They may even demand Obama appear backlit behind a screen like 60 Minutes does when they interview a whistle–blower who doesn’t want to be recognized.
And all evidence points toward Obama’s team urging him to be more aggressive during the remaining debates, ready to pounce on Romney and his evil plans.
Fors fortus, as the Romans say.
He may be able to frighten the White House staff and startle the interns when Obama gets forceful, but I have an idea that during the debate it will only look bitchy.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.