The Early Read: Romney Won, and He Will Gain

Pundits across the political spectrum are giving the first debate to the challenger, saying Mitt Romney performed more aggressively than President Obama, who seemed to lack the energy of his opponent.

From Dylan Byers at Politico:

Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter took a swipe at moderator Jim Lehrer’s largely passive debate performance tonight, saying the PBS anchor had allowed Mitt Romney to act as the moderator.

“I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator because we had Mitt Romney,” Cutter told CNN shortly after the debate.

Cutter’s decision to place blame on Lehrer may signal an acknowledgment by the Obama campaign that the president did not perform as well as his challenger, Mitt Romney — which was the general consensus of the media, including the usually pro-Obama MSNBC. (MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz slammed Obama’s performance.)

When one side starts taking swipes at the moderator, you know they think they lost.

A Democratic operative told Ron Fournier of National Journal that focus groups and polling about the debate favored Romney. Liberal comedian Bill Maher joked that Obama needed his teleprompter.

Romney was remorseless in attacking Obama and gave people at least some idea of what he’d do as president. Obama sounded like a professor trying to put down a class rebellion with a repeat recitation of his most recent lecture.

This one has already been called for Romney. The polls should tighten, at least a little bit. The election probably just went from “leans Obama” to either “tossup” or “leans Romney.”

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Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at

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