Ford O'Connell On CBC News Recapping Second Presidential Debate

Ford O'Connell joins CBC News to discuss the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and the likely impact that the second debate might have on undecided voters in the battle for the White House as we move closer to Election Day 2012.

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Obama-Romney Round Two: Bounce back

President Obama needed to show he could fight, and defend his recession- and war-battered four years in office. And he showed up ready to do battle, in a performance that observers say is likely to stop the bleeding in a campaign that has seen dramatic losses in the polls.

But whether it is enough to propel the president ahead of Mitt Romney remains to be seen. Romney held his own, and got in harsh lines such as telling voters Obama can only offer a “repeat of the last four years.” Obama, using a line of attack he had foregone last time, went at Romney’s “47 percent” remarks.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell: “President Obama came out of the gates swinging, and after the 30-minute mark Romney is trailing the president.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell: “After 60-minute mark, Obama is leading but Romney is catching up. Who would have thought that Romney could better tell you why he is NOT President George W. Bush than President Obama could tell you why he deserves a second term.” 

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell: “Mitt Romney had the upper-hand on the terrorist attack in Libya question, but he was unable to pin President Obama with failed leadership or policies. In fact, Romney pretty much fumbled the issue. He will likely get a second chance at the Libya issue in the third debate which will exclusively cover foreign policy.

“Romney closed strong — his best line of the debate: ‘We don’t have to settle for this.””

Read more from Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald

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Second Presidential Debate Preview On Fox Business

Ford O'Connell and Fox News' KT McFarland join Fox Business Network's Gerri Willis on "The Willis Report" to preview the second presidential debate, a town-hall style event, between Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and to discuss the role that the recent terrorist attack in Libya might play in that debate.


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5 Things Mitt Romney Needs To Do In Tuesday Night's Presidential Debate

They say you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. But after his abysmal performance at the first presidential tilt in Denver, President Barack Obama hopes he can do exactly that in the town-hall-style debate Tuesday night in Hempstead, N.Y.

But he's not the only candidate who needs a strong performance. Mitt Romney may have received "his best set of polls all year" last Friday, according to polling analyst Nate Silver of The New York Times. Still, if Romney is to win the White House—if he is to overcome the 15- to 20-point disadvantage he still faces in the Electoral College vote—he can't rest on his first debate success.

And he can't do it by attacking President Obama. The president and his record are not the focal points of this debate—the dozen or so undecided voters who will ask questions of the candidates are. Moderator Candy Crowley can inject herself as well, although neither candidate wants her to play a major role. But for the most part, both are at the mercy of the studio audience.

It is important for Romney to remember that style matters more than substance, that this isn't the place to explain in any extensive detail his economic plans and he should avoid trading barbs. This is not Denver. This is Oprah or The View. Listen. Understand. Exchange ideas.

To be successful Romney needs to focus on five items:

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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News Analysis: Tuesday’s Presidential Debate All About Style, Giving Obama Advantage

Both U.S. presidential candidates’ ability to connect with viewers will be the most important aspect of Tuesday night’s presidential debate, which could give President Barack Obama an advantage over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, experts said.

Indeed, the debate’s town-hall forum is all about being folksy and portraying oneself as attuned to the needs of the average Americans, rather than paying attention to the finer points of policy.

As such, Obama has a natural advantage, as he apparently has always been able to connect better with his audience than Romney, who has at times come off as stiff and awkward in public, experts said.

“It’s a real dog and pony show,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Town hall debates tend to favor style over substance.”

But it remains to be seen whether Romney has gotten over his public awkwardness, as Tuesday’s discussion will be much less about policy and mostly about each candidate presenting himself as someone who can relate to average voters. That means that Romney must avoid getting bogged down in tedious policy minutia, as he is known to do, noted O’Connell.


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Paul Ryan's Charms Fall Flat In Irish Homeland

In the land of his ancestors, Paul Ryan's Irish charm is failing him.

Despite his name, Roman Catholic faith and immigrant-made-good family history, the Irish half of the Republican ticket is failing to win the allegiance of the old country from Barack Obama, a skilled hand at playing the Irish card.

Obama struck public relations gold last year by sharing a Guinness with a distant cousin in the village of Moneygall after an amateur genealogist traced his ancestors there. Pictures of cheering Irish crowds were beamed across the United States.

But 100 kilometers (60 miles) down the road, Ryan's ancestral hometown is feeling the cold shoulder and like Ireland as a whole, most of the locals are rooting for his Democratic presidential rivals.

"It's really all about Ohio. Both candidates are looking to gain footing any way that they can," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who said working-class Irish American Catholics were one group being targeted.

Read more from Conor Humphries at Reuters

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Chart: The "Huge Recovery" Fiction

From Powerline:

Michelle Obama says we are “in the midst of a huge recovery.” That claim is laughable to anyone who has lived through the last four years; this simple chart from the Senate Budget Committee highlights one of the central failings of Obamanomics: people are leaving the labor force faster than they are entering it.

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Clinton Takes Responsibility For Terrorist Attack In Libya

Something smells rotten in the state of Denmark. From CNN's Elise Labott:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday tried to douse a political firestorm over the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying she's responsible for the security of American diplomatic outposts.

"I take responsibility," Clinton said during a visit to Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."

But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11.

[Clinton] added, "What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game."

Clinton's statement of responsibility was "a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever," the Arizona senator said in a joint broadside with Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. However, they added, "The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander-in-chief. The buck stops there."

Stevens, State Department computer expert Sean Smith and security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods died in the Benghazi assault, which State Department officials now say was the work of dozens of armed men.

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Why Most Nevada Polls Are Garbage

From Jon Ralston at Ralston Reports:

A few words about all of these polls on the presidential race in Nevada: Don’t believe them.

Sound familiar? Yes, I was telling you the same thing two years ago when every poll (almost) showed Sharron Angle would be the next U.S. senator from Nevada. That didn’t happen, and all of those polls were wrong for different reasons, which eventually comes down to the same reason:

You hear the cliché all the time that polls are snapshots in time. That is true, but it also highlights the basic problem with most polls. That snapshot may be worth a thousand words, but only when the picture is taken. So the best pollsters – this is the key – know how to weight the results to fit the picture that will exist on Election Day – that is, what the turnout actually will look like.

Despite what all of those polls say, Romney's path to victory in Nevada now is much more problematic than any Republican will acknowledge.

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Poll: Romney, Obama Tied Among Likely Female Voters

From USAToday's Susan Page:

Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation's top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.

The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate Tuesday night and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign. As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.

That makes women, especially blue-collar "waitress moms" whose families have been hard-hit by the nation's economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012's close race.

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Analysis & Political Strategy