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Obama's Debate Performance: President Suffers 'Incumbent Curse' Against Romney, But Vice President Biden Praises Obama's Performance

A column in the National Journal says Obama fell victim to the challenges that plague every incumbent president.

By Ryan Buxton, EnStars on Oct 04, 2012 09:33 AM EDT
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A combined photo of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is shown a day ahead of the first presidential debate on October 2, 2012.
A combined photo of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is shown a day ahead of the first presidential debate on October 2, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)

The morning after the first presidential debate of 2012 finds most pundits declaring Mitt Romney the victor and agreeing that President Barack Obama came off as peeved and sometimes frustrated during the 90-minute event.

Some attribute Romney's success to his personable, charming demeanor, but a column in the National Journal claimed it was Obama's debate to lose, and the reason he didn't do better was "the curse of incumbency."

"Like many of his predecessors, President Obama fell victim Wednesday night to high expectations, a short fuse and a hungry challenger," columnist Ron Fournier wrote immediately following the debate's conclusion.

The op-ed attributed Obama's performance to several factors, including that a sitting president has less time to prepare for a debate than a challenger who can focus completely on the campaign, as well as the fact that many Americans anticipate the current president will win any debate, which creates lofty expectations that are not easily met.

Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis admitted to the National Journal that his party's candidate didn't fare as well as he had hoped.

"Romney won the debate, and we better come loaded for bear next time," Kofinis said. "In the next two debates, the president needs to take the fight to Romney or he will lose this fight. It's that simple."

But Romney may not be completely golden after his performance. Democratic public opinion firm GQR Digital held a debate focus group, which found that though Romney improved his personal appeal during the debate, "the research does not suggest that Romney fundamentally changed the political calculus in this election."

President Obama did have one steadfast supporter in his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden.

"If you finished watching the debate like I did, I am sure you are as proud of President Obama as I am," Biden said. "The president did a good job in laying out his concrete plan for restoring the middle class, from ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, to giving tax credits to companies that bring jobs home, to preparing 100,000 new math and science teachers, and training two million workers at our community colleges so we can continue to have the best and most productive work force in the world."

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