Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Cracks Forming in Obama Campaign?

The Obama campaign has blamed the president’s poor debate performance on everything from Mitt Romney’s supposed “lies,” to Obama having an “off night.” So it’s no surprise the blame game is also taking place inside the campaign. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports on rumblings of a possible staff shakeup coming soon (h/t Ed Morrissey):

The finger-pointing has already spilled out into the media, with sources saying the real problem was that he didn’t take the debate prep seriously. The Daily Mail’s article is the worst for the president yet, reporting that Obama didn’t realize he lost the debate until 24 hours later (which is at least better than the time he didn’t realize the 9/11/12 attack on a U.S. consulate was an act of terrorism until two weeks later):

When President Barack Obama stepped off the stage in Denver last week the 60 million Americans watching the debate against Mitt Romney already knew it had been a disaster for him.

But what nobody knew, until now, was that Obama believed he had actually won.

In an extraordinary insight into the events leading up to the 90 minute showdown which changed the face of the election, a Democrat close to the Obama campaign today reveals that the President also did not take his debate preparation seriously, ignored the advice of senior aides and ignored one-liners that had been prepared to wound Romney.

The Democrat said that Obama’s inner circle was dismayed at the ‘disaster’ and that he believed the central problem was that the President was so disdainful of Romney that he didn’t believe he needed to engage with him.

‘President Obama made it clear he wanted to be doing anything else – anything – but debate prep,’ the Democrat said. ‘He kept breaking off whenever he got the opportunity and never really focused on the event.

The article is so brutal for Obama and so sympathetic to his debate-prep staff that you wonder whether it was a pointed leak. If true, it’s difficult to imagine the president will be able to improve much between this debate and the next. As Jim Geraghty writes, “You can’t improve a debater who sees losses as wins.” Maybe Obama actually has shown more self-awareness in the last few days than the article indicates. But per Rich Lowry’s argument, if Obama actually believes his own messaging — that he lost because “Romney lied” — that won’t make his preparation for the next debate very effective.