Please Don’t Forget White Women, Obama

Let's face it: The president's first 2012 debate performance shows that he forgot a key voting bloc.

President Obama shakes hands in Pittsburgh. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Obama shakes hands in Pittsburgh. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Gwen Ifill was sorely missed during the first of the presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Had she or Candy Crowley or even Diane Sawyer moderated Wednesday night’s debate, my guess is that one issue that was completely AWOL would have been called into duty: women’s rights.

Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t Jim Lehrer’s job to bring up what some may label a special interest issue, but a female moderator probably would have.

And a less reserved Barack Obama should have.

There were many other political paths the president could have pursued during Wednesday’s debate. He could have discussed the unemployment crisis in the inner cities. Or union rights. Or tax returns. He should have brought up the secretly recorded “47 percent” videotape with Romney writing off nearly half of the American voting public. He should have brought up Romney’s tax returns. And he should have brought up Bain Capital.

Obama didn’t. The president left all those talking points in Chicago in the Prudential Building, where all his campaign strategies are cooked up with those issues as the main ingredients. He didn’t even knock down or assertively point out any of Romney’s misspeaks — such as the charge that Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare — or redirections — such as Romney now suddenly bragging about his health care bill in Massachusetts.

So while Romney got a pass, the president got a butt whipping. Unless you are an Obama hater, it was not a sight to behold. It was like watching a real-life mugging in slow motion. And in the process of pummeling the president, Romney gave GOP down-ticket candidates new hope as well.

It wasn’t supposed to go that way. All things were unequal until Wednesday’s debate, when Romney was finally able make it about the economy — and to do it his way. 

Just hours before the debate, Romney’s favorable and unfavorable ratings were upside down. According to a Pew poll, 45 percent disliked him and 40 percent thought he was all right, while Republican pols and pundits were busy bad-mouthing him. President Obama, on the other hand, enjoyed a 55 percent favorability rating, with only 42 percent declaring him not their favorite.