We all thought Barack Obama was the skilled, smooth-talking debater, and Mitt Romney was the disconnected, awkward robot.
But in delivering their messages, Romney was a concise Power Point presentation. You could see bullet-points on the screen as he spoke. Obama was an unprepared professor without any notes, nursing a hangover, and ad-libbing his early morning lecture.
Even when not talking, Romney was winning. While listening to Obama, Romney maintained a polite but emotionless poker face. When Romney spoke, Obama hardly looked at him. He smirked smugly, and sometimes looked away, as if he didn't want to be there.
I think the endless series of GOP debates helped Romney prepare. The sweaty, white-hot crucible of Newt Gingrich & company seems to have turned Romney into a savvy debater. Obama has spent the last 4 years selling his policies and campaigning. He's accustomed to speaking in monologue, not dialogue. And the media doesn't ask him challenging questions. Last night was something new for Obama.
The substance of the debate also favored Romney. Obama reiterated some of his campaign's rhetoric about tax cuts for the rich, and about the deficit left by George W. Bush. Romney did well to address and dismiss those tactics.
Unfortunately for Obama, he couldn't boast much about his record. He tried boasting about Bill Clinton's then comparing it to his own. Meanwhile, Romney demonstrated an impressive understanding of economics and businesses. Every point Romney made ultimately led to job creation, how he plans to do it, and how Obama has failed to do it.
Last night the real Mitt Romney introduced himself to America, and to Barack Obama. For Obama's sake, he'd better have been paying more attention than it seemed like he was paying.