At the tail end of his answer to the traditional quadrennial debate question about bridging “partisan gridlock,” Pres. Obama said this at Wednesday night’s debate at the University of Denver…
“And so part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things and I gotta tell you, Gov. Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party.”
We’ve made the point a number of times recently that a closing argument of Democratic campaigns and allies through Nov. 6 will be to call the Republicans “extreme,” especially on abortion and contraception. And in fact, that has happened in a number of races across the country, including U.S. Senate contests. But in last night’s debate, the only mention of the “e”-word – in any context – that I can remember came from Pres. Obama [and is the only reference in the transcript]. It came just before each candidate made a closing statement.
Gov. Romney so thoroughly controlled the flow, tempo, and subject matter of the debate, so thoroughly kept President Obama on his heels, that this was apparently the only opportunity that Pres. Obama had push a theme he was quite clearly desperate to get to.
When you force your opponent to bury a closing argument, you’ve had a pretty good night.
[Updated 10/4/12 and 10/5/12]