Remember that long awful stretch of endless Republican debates that everyone was tired of. A long grueling schedule of 27 debates. Who could that possibly help?
Mitt Romney, apparently.
Obama came to the McCain debates with some experience after the primaries, but this time it was Romney who had gone through his own trial by fire during the primaries. Romney had gone through plenty of high profile debates before, but the epic Republican primaries in 2012 had been the debates that never ended. The debates may have worn on our nerves, but after going up against Gingrich and Perry, the showdown with Obama was smooth sailing.
Obama had faced off against fairly weak debaters like Hillary Clinton and McCain and that was a while back. Since then he’s had an adoring media corps carry his bags. No one has talked back to him or argued with him and focusing on doing The View and Glamour Magazine did not help prepare him for this.
Obama is still uncomfortable speaking without a strong crowd reaction. He reads lines off a teleprompter more naturally than he recites them from memory. He’s used to being adored, not to being challenged and his instincts have gotten rusty since the last time he did this.
Romney has gotten used to playing to tough crowds and getting audiences who don’t like him personally to accept him. His opponent is a lot weaker with an emotional support network. After four years, it’s clearer than ever that Obama has never really been tested.