The first Presidential debate of the season reminded me of a great scene from one of my favorite movies.
In the movie “Rocky”, when Rocky Balboa finally gets a shot to fight Apollo Creed, as a considerable underdog, he scored an unbelievable knock down of Creed in the first round, surprising Creed who had spent more time entertaining the crowd than taking Balboa seriously.
When Creed finished the first round, he stumbled to his corner looking dazed. His manager looks at Creed and says, referring to Rocky, “He doesn’t think this is some show, he thinks this is a fight!”
I have to believe that line is similar to what David Axelrod, one of the President’s top advisors, said to President Obama as he stumbled back to his hotel on Wednesday night.
Mitt Romney came to the first debate ready to fight, because for him, everything was on the line. If he would have failed to show the same spirit he did on Wednesday night or if President Obama brought his “A” game and bloodied Romney, the race would be over. We would be talking about the GOP’s chances in 2016 with Marco Rubio or Chris Christie.
But Mitt Romney did come ready for a fight, and for an inexplicable reason, President Obama didn’t remember that this was a fight until well after half of the debate was over.
The other aspect of the situation working against President Obama was that he was the favorite. Mitt Romney was not expected to do very well. Most pundits that talked about Romney’s performance said they were “surprised” with what they saw from him.
President Obama came into the debate like a defending champion. As the champion, Obama was expected to do well, especially with his well known speaking prowess. When he didn’t perform like a champion, his performance was criticized to a higher degree than it would have if he were not the incumbent.
In the end, how both candidates did in the big DU debate will not likely do much to determine a winner in November, but what it will do is extend the race.
Instead of seeing a steady decline of support due to slipping in the polls, Mitt Romney will see more people take a second look at his candidacy. That second look will buoy his polling results in some swing states, which will help in fundraising, but it will not guarantee a win.
A debate has the ability to change everything, but that’s rare. More often than not, it is simply another round in the marathon fight that is the Presidential campaign.
Speaking of fights, supporters of Mitt Romney won’t like how the first Rocky ends. While Rocky Balboa is internationally known as the underdog champion, in the first movie, he loses. Apollo Creed responds well to his first round surprise and eventually retains his title as champion.
While I am unsure who will be crowned champion on Nov. 6th, I do know one thing. After being knocked down Wednesday night, President Obama knows that now he’s in a fight.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.