Romney – A, Obama – C+: Professor Hankins Grades First Presidential Debate

University of Denver
October 3, 2012

Within a few minutes of the first presidential debate, it was clear, contrary to press reports, that America has a horse race. Governor Mitt Romney appeared friendly, relaxed and confident.

President Obama, on the other hand, was serious and uncharacteristically hesitant. His speech pattern was halting and peppered with numerous fillers (“uh”), creating the perception of a lack of confidence, conviction and preparation.

Romney’s responses were clear, concise and articulate. His artful use of the Theory of Sorting (counting off points as in “No. 1…”, “No. 2…”, “No. 3…”) to concisely make points, created an aura of authority.

When President Obama spoke, Romney smiled at him as Romney made notes of important points. When Romney spoke, he addressed responses to the President, another sign of confidence. On the other hand, Obama seldomly looked at Romney, instead addressing his comments to Jim Lehrer.

Romney made good use of gestures, which gave him energy. Obama’s lack of gestures had the opposite impact and caused him to look almost meek compared to Romney.

When it came to the subject of this first debate, which focused exclusively on domestic policy, Romney frequently appeared to have a superior grasp of economic and fiscal issues.

All in all, I give Romney an A, President Obama a C+. How would you grade them?

Stay tuned for my comments on the next debates:
October 11, 2012 – Vice Presidential – Topic: Foreign and domestic policy
October 16, 2012 – Presidential – Topic: Foreign and domestic policy

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