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October 4, 2012 1:36 pm

Presidential Debate: The Prince and the Fighter

avatar by Heather Robinson

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney debates President Obama. Photo: Screenshot.

A few quick thoughts about Wednesday’s Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Romney has been fighting to be President of the United States for eight long years. He was not anointed by his party; his competitors for the Republican nomination (remember Newt?) were not asked to step down out of concern there was too much acrimony within the party or things were dragging out (remember Hillary?) The point is, the man has had to struggle long and hard to get to where he is now. Is it any surprise he’s tough? He would never have made it this far if he weren’t.

Not to take anything away from President Obama, a charming man of intellect. But I think former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani cut to the heart of matter on FOX News following the debate when he said, regarding the media’s treatment of President Obama, “the man has had an easy ride for four years.” Giuliani pointed out that President Obama seldom even holds press conferences anymore, but leaves answering questions to spokesmen. I would add that, even when Obama did appear at press conferences, the media didn’t challenge him. This was true to a degree that was odd. All previous Presidents of recent memory have had a much more adversarial relationship with the press.

To those of us who have followed Governor Romney these past years, the facts that he is highly intelligent, detail-oriented, very Type-A, and resilient under pressure, are no surprise. Nor is the fact that he is likable. Indeed, he seems more than any Presidential contender in recent history to have spent huge amounts of time and energy in his personal life–including long before he ran for office–helping people, sometimes in remarkably creative and unexpected ways. Like his political philosophy or not, the Obama campaign should be having a harder time characterizing him as an unfeeling rich guy than they have been, given that even cursory familiarity with his biography shows him to be an unusually charitable and devoted family man who on many occasions went above and beyond to help the less fortunate.

At times I have wondered, is it possible the American people who consistently rate Romney’s likability as lower than the President’s (including many women voters) only think he’s less likable because they’ve been told he is, over and over again, by talking heads who prefer Obama?

There might be an irony here and a chance for the Romney campaign in these final weeks. The media have characterized Romney as the spoiled, uncaring prince, and given his background, one might think that would be the case. But in this contest, who has really had to fight harder, for longer, to win, and who has been given every advantage an adoring media and enraptured party leadership could bestow?

Perhaps the prince is Obama, and the fighter is Romney.

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