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A PR Critique of Presidential Debate 1
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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As us flacks all know, PR is more than just facts and presentations; it’s about perceptions and how those perceptions help shape reality. Well, if you watched the first Presidential Debate held in Denver and moderated by PBS’s Jim Lehrer, you saw a lot of body language and a lot of points and counter points.You also saw Mr. Romney's famous "Sweet" smile...which I am sure somewhat rattled the President. The give and take was quite lively and both debaters landed zingers on each other. But it appears to me, and to others, that Mr. Romney landed more zingers last night than did Mr. Obama.
Taking a quick review on the Net of reaction to the debate, I found an interesting oist on BusinessInsider.com. That website had an article about the debate between the two candidates that commented on how Mr. Romney “absolutely destroyed Obama” according to a linked article written by Grace Wyler of BI.com. She noted: 
“Republican nominee Mitt Romney has clearly been practicing for tonight's presidential debate. 

He really hit his stride in the second 15-minute segment of the debate, when the questions turned to the issue of the debt and the federal deficit. 

Asked about the deficit, President Barack Obama launched into a pseudo-rambling spiel attacking Romney on everything from Big Energy subsidies, to refusing to raise taxes on the highest income earners, to tax breaks that go to companies moving jobs overseas.”

When Mr. Lehrer asked Romney to respond, the Republican nominee shook his head, and said simply, "Well, he covered a lot of topics there." 

Romney then went on the offensive, and blasted Obama for his record of picking losers in the Green Energy field (Solyndra and others), saying: "I have a friend who says, you don't pick winners and losers, you just pick losers." 

Romney followed up that with perhaps the biggest coup of the night, with an arrow straight remark about the President’s comment regarding a supposed tax break for companies that ship jobs overseas: “I've been in business for 25 years, and I have no idea what you're talking about." 

Romney’s key focus throughout the first debate was on job creation, lowering tax rates for small business and the middle class, reforming regulations, and keeping Social Security and Medicare strong. While agreeing with the President regarding healthcare, Romney blasted ObamaCare as in effect killing jobs in the long run, making insurance costlier for families and small businesses, and endangering Medicare for seniors currently on the program.
As I said before, this presidential race is certainly getting more interesting. One very interesting item, according to some of the comment reaction embedded in the article mentioned above, is that BuzzFeed's Ben Smith gave the first debate to Romney after 40 minutes. As Smith said, “"But Romney's core success was that he won by not losing: He has barely weathered a campaign that reduced him to a smaller figure than President Obama. On stage, they were roughly the same size.”

To me, Mr. Obama, even though the incumbent, seemed unprepared, having a difficult time staying focused, while Mr. Romney remained consistent, to the point, and articulate about his principles and overall ideas.

I agree with the consensus that Mr Romney seemed to have carried the debate tonight. And, perhaps even more importantly, he looked presidential.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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