During the first Presidential debate last night, CNN ran a clock on screen showing how long each candidate had spoken in total. It reminded me of a time-of-possession clock in a football game. In a game, if one team burns more of the clock, it can mean that they’re controlling the ball, defending their lead, denying their opponents the opportunity to score.
Sometimes. But sometimes it just means they’re running a slogging ground game, while their opponent scores faster and more often by putting the ball in the air.
By CNN’s clock, President Barack Obama spoke for more than three minutes longer than Mitt Romney. But it didn’t feel like he said more. In the first debate of the 2012 campaign, Romney was sharper, more animated, quicker. Two candidates were on stage, but only one seemed to be competing. Obama spent more time speaking but not more time talking. You could have held a whole other debate within the time he spent on “Aaaahs” and “Ummms” and thoughtful pauses.
I can’t pretend to know how or if any debate will change votes. Debates are most intensely watched and judged by decided voters, who want to hear their beliefs argued forcefully. (Case in point: nowhere were the wails over Obama’s chill demeanor louder than on MSNBC’s post-debate liberal panel.) Undecided voters may get turned off by exactly the same aggressive tactics. Maybe there’s a long game here, some 3-D chess that’s utterly beyond me. (The best way to tell: if Team Obama does the same thing next debate. Any bets?)
Maybe. But the short game last night was Romney’s. The Obama who came on stage seemed, most charitably, like someone who was handicapped by the burden of playing it safe to protect a lead. The danger is that, by the time the last debate comes around, he may not have that burden anymore.
http://entertainment.time.com/2012/10/04/debate-watch-obama-eats-up-the-clock-but-romney-sets-the-agenda/#ixzz28MufTZsc" href="http://entertainment.time.com/2012/10/04/debate-watch-obama-eats-up-the-clock-but-romney-sets-the-agenda/#content"> Read the full piece at Time.com->