Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

October 9, 2012

The Mitt we've been waiting for

(Continued)

On the other hand, his shortcomings as a candidate - particularly evident during the past couple of months - are that he has trouble connecting, he relies too much on substanceless biography, and he lacks passion. Not from the debate stage in Denver.

On connecting, he resorted to the obvious but effective expedient of talking about the struggles of real people he has met on the campaign trail. This might not have worked so well if it didn't contrast so starkly with the bloodlessness of the president, who was as engaging as the safely tenured professor who knows he doesn't need to bother wowing his students anymore.

On substance, Romney had an absolute command of details and connected them back to the goals of his program - a thriving economy and middle class.

On passion, say whatever else you will about Mitt Romney, but he sincerely believes he can do this job. And the most important issue facing the country - Can its economy and government be put on a more efficient footing conducive to economic growth? - is in his wheelhouse. All that came through.

This matchup was reminiscent of Romney's must-win debates with Newt Gingrich before the Florida primary. Like the former speaker, Obama got run over by a Mitt Romney who was better prepared and determined to deconstruct his opponent. The Florida debates were the end for Gingrich, who was out of resources and out of time.

Not so the president, obviously. Romney's 47 percent remark is still out there, even if it bizarrely didn't come up during the debate. The Romney-Ryan Medicare reform is still a heavy lift. Obama will continue to benefit from a Bush overhang. But at least in the debates, it is now clear that the Romney campaign has an underappreciated asset - none other than Mitt Romney himself.

(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate

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