Recap: Live-blogging the presidential debate

Recap: Live-blogging the presidential debate

Photo by AP

Tribune reporters live-blogged the first presidential debate tonight, part of District 4, the Tribune’s new political blog. Read their thoughts and analysis, and check tomorrow’s Tribune for a full debate recap and analysis.

9:42 pm – Alec Brooks

For those of you that think Obama lost, does the fact that Obama had more time on the clock play a role? Should he have talked less, or even more?

9:36 pm – Joe Kaiser

Time to flip between Fox News and MSNBC to see the completely different interpretations of the exact same event.

9:33 pm – Allison Kruschke

Overall, Romney made a much stronger showing in tonight’s debate than I expected. Obama closed his remarks with the great oratory we know and love – “I never said I could be a perfect president…but if you vote for me, I will continue to fight for the American people each day.”

9:33 pm – Joe Kaiser

Final speaking times. Obama: 42:50, Romney 38:32.

9:32 pm – Joe Kaiser

Obama saying he wouldn’t be a “perfect president” does not come across as a very strong closing statement. The Obama campaign is likely going to need to go back to the drawing board for next debate’s closing statement, especially after how Romney followed that up.

9:32 pm – Alec Brooks

Romney starts his closing statement with the familiar this “election determines the course of America” speech. True, but trite.

9:29 pm – Alec Brooks

Time for closing statements. Obama goes first because Romney won a coin toss and chose to go last. Am I watching football or politics?

9:29 pm – Allison Kruschke

Interesting, in this political climate, that Obama is taking a stance that some fights in politics are meant to be had. Most talking heads and politicians have spent the last several months touting the need for bipartisanship and collaboration.

9:26 pm – Alec Brooks

Partisan gridlock comes up again. Once again, both Obama and Romney say they want to work across the aisle.

9:26 pm – Joe Kaiser

Romney touting record of bipartisanship in Mass. is definitely a contrast from his efforts to try to prove himself sufficiently conservative in the primary. Says ‘[Republicans and Democrats] have common ground.’

9:24 pm – Joe Kaiser

With three minutes left, Obama leads in speaking time 38 to 35 minutes.

9:22 pm – Allison Kruschke

I wish grown men could speak without interrupting each other.

9:22 pm – Joe Kaiser

Romney to Obama: “You’re entitled to your own airplane, your own house – but not your own facts.”

9:19 pm – Joe Kaiser

Conservative base may not like Romney saying the federal government ‘can have a role’ in education, but then again, they didn’t fall in love with Romney, they fell in line.

9:19 pm – Allison Kruschke

Education is one of my favorite subjects. Now starting the countdown to the school vouchers debate.

9:16 pm – Alec Brooks

The candidates have been pretty civil tonight. No ’47 percent’ cracks or ‘you didn’t build that’ zingers.

9:14 pm – Joe Kaiser

Also, Lehrer needs to put his foot down on all these rebuttals. He’s getting more trampled than Jon Huntsman in the Iowa Caucus

9:12 pm – Joe Kaiser

9:11 p.m: First Ronald Reagan reference. Romney’s conservative base can sleep well tonight.

9:11 pm – Alec Brooks has a number of common misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — that the candidates have been toting. In particular, the new law did not add the 6 million young adults Obama claims and the government does not come between you and your doctor, as Romney says.

9:08 pm – Joe Kaiser

Interesting to see Obama now call the Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare.’ He’s probably been advised to take even stronger ownership of it.

9:05 pm – Joe Kaiser

Obama notes that his health care reforms were originally a Republican idea. In fact, it was highly touted by both Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation. Gingrich has supported an individual mandate in particularly as recent as 2009.

9:04 pm – Alec Brooks

Anyone notice how much more popular bipartisanship is at a debate compared to within Congress?

9:01 pm – Allison Kruschke

Seriously Jim Lehrer, show these guys who’s boss!

9:01 pm – Allison Kruschke

I’m hesitant to think about how much has changed since the Affordable Care Act was passed, given how much of it has yet to implemented.

In other news, Obama just used to term “jerk ya around” in a presidential debate.

8:56 pm – Alec Brooks

Finally, we get to health care, which has been mentioned off-and-on all night.

8:53 pm – Allison Kruschke

Romney – “Let’s talk about that…” Lehrer – “Let’s not.” It’s about time! Both candidates are walking all over this guy.

8:50 pm – Allison Kruschke

Ah yes, Medicare! I can’t believe it took this long to get to this subject. The program was thrust into the spotlight when GOP vice presidential candidate and chairman of the House budget committee Paul Ryan proposed changing Medicare into a voucher-like program. Obama argues that the Affordable Care Act will help fund preventative care and keep prescription drug costs down for seniors.

Interesting that Romney is boasting that seniors should have a choice in whether they use a private insurance company or a public option, given the backlash from some Republicans about the public option proposed for Obamacare.

8:48 pm – Alec Brooks

It’s interesting to listen to Romney and Obama on entitlement in light of polls that give Obama a slight edge on that subject. In particular, voters favor keeping Medicare as it is was, over changing to what Romney endorses 3-1. (As Romney notes, he doesn’t support changing Medicare for people retiring soon.)

8:42 pm – Allison Kruschke

The phrase “States are the laboratories of democracy” came from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis in 1932 .Romney used the metaphor to describe how states can better serve the poor.

8:39 pm – Alec Brooks

Jim Lehrer is effectively out of the loop. Romney decided he needed some time to go through a list of topics, and that’s probably what will happen. If Lehrer got a word in between Obama and Romney, no one heard it.

Obviously, we tune into debates to listen to the candidates and not the moderator, but this is a really extreme case of that.

8:38 pm – Joe Kaiser

As Obama touts ‘helping young people,’ college tuition increased 15 percent between 2008-2010. Monetary policy will likely never come up in this debate, but college tuition has increased 1,120 percent since 1978. Yes, you read that last number right. Should this be an issue that gets more, direct attention?

8:37 pm – Allison Kruschke

Obama repeats his mantra that he will ask the richest Americans to “pay a little more.” He’s taking a dig at Romney by digging up an old gafe – when asked if he would take in revenue for a spending cut, he said no. Romney counters by saying that raising taxes on the rich slows job growth.


8:35 pm – Joe Kaiser

Not sure how it looks for Obama to nod as Romney says things like “but you’ve been president four years..economy is still growing slow…”

8:32 pm – Alec Brooks

Here the difference between the candidates become explicit. Romney’s position is that tax cuts are effectively an investment — let those tax dollars stay in the economy. Obama’s is that the government spending is itself an investment.

8:29 pm – Joe Kaiser

8:28 p.m: first mention of the Bush administration.

8:29 pm – Allison Kruschke

Yes, Mitt Romney did just admit to being a fan of Big Bird. To those of you who are reading, what do we think – Is Obama more of a Cookie Monster? Or, perhaps, an Ernie?

8:28 pm – Joe Kaiser

Romney – “I like big bird.”

Somewhere between the primary and now,the former governor gained a personality.

8:27 pm – Joe Kaiser

Jim Lehrer wants to move on from taxes, but while we are still on the topic, according to, Romney’s proposed tax rates, from lowest income to highest, would be eight percent, 12 percent, 20 percent, 22.4 percent, 26.4 percent, 28 percent. Obama’s proposal would feature rates of 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent.

Romney’s plan would also eliminate the estate tax and alternative minimum tax (AMT), while the president’s plan replaces the AMT with the Buffett Rule, which requires millionaires to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. The difference in corporate income tax would be 35 percent under Obama and 25 percent under Romney.

Obama seems likely to continue invoking Clinton when this topic comes up in the future, though it appeared he was ready to move on as Romney refused to sacrifice the last word on the topic.

8:26 pm – Allison Kruschke

“You each have two minutes on this.” I’m setting the timer…

8:24 pm – Allison Kruschke

Will this moderator get a word in edgewise? The candidates are clearly dominating the debate format. I hope that we will see more pushing from Jim Lehrer later on. Let’s challenge the candidates to make their best case to the American people and not just out do each other.

8:21 pm – Alec Brooks

I haven’t decided yet if the graph and timers on the bottom are helpful or distracting. Still, I like that CNN is trying to do something different. I wonder why they chose to split it by gender and not, say, age or which party they voted for last time.

8:20 pm – Allison Kruschke

Romney – “Everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate.” Not to mention he’s getting feisty with the moderator. And making jokes! Interesting to see Romney having a human moment during this debate, given he spent most of the campaign being accused of being bland.

8:12 pm – Joe Kaiser

The phrase Mitt Romney used in his first answer, ‘trickle down government,’ was originally coined by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in January when he called Obama’s economic policies a ‘grand experiment in trickle-down government.’

Vice President Joe Biden responded to the phrase then by saying ‘if putting kids through school means [putting them] through Pell Grants, that’s trickle down government.’