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October 4th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Sen. John McCain: Obama 'rusty,' but Romney came across as himself

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joined “Starting Point” early Thursday to weigh in on the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama. McCain argues that Romney preformed well offering specifics on the budget and Medicare whereas the president failed to defend his record.

“I think [the president] was fairly rusty. He has had four years relatively unchallenged in the things that he has said,” McCain adds. “Mitt went through a very tough primary, as we all know. I think that showed up last night. I would not underestimate the president of the United States in the next couple of debates and I don't think Mitt will either.”

McCain argues Romney will need to focus on the reality and "facts" of America’s current situation abroad in the next presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy. “We're in retreat, withdrawal, Iraq is unraveling, Al Qaeda is on the upswing every place in the Middle East. This terrible stuff that's going on of Afghans in uniform killing Americans in uniform. All the president has done has announced withdrawals, withdrawals,” McCain says.

October 4th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Austan Goolsbee: Romney’s economic plan ‘doesn’t add up’

The former chief economist of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Austan Goolsbee, joined “Starting Point” Thursday to take a closer look at Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama’s economic policies as put forth in the first presidential debate Wednesday night.

Goolsbee argues that it would be impossible to cut $5 trillion through tax cuts without either raising taxes elsewhere or adding to the deficit. “I think the bigger issue is [that] you can take every single deduction there is, abolish them all, and it doesn't add up to $5 trillion,” says Goolsbee, who is also a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

October 4th, 2012
10:49 AM ET

Jen Psaki: American people want ‘Commander-in-chief’ not ‘attacker-in-chief’

The Obama Campaign’s traveling press secretary, Jen Psaki, joined “Starting Point” early Thursday to discuss President Barack Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate. Psaki argues that Romney failed to deliver details on his economic plans, such as "voucherizing" Medicare and giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

“[Romney] had an opportunity to lay out details on his $5 trillion tax plan and instead he relied on a magic calculator, with magic math,” Psaki says. She also claims that “[the American people are] not looking for an attacker-in-chief – which is what Mitt Romney was last night – they’re looking for a Commander-in-chief.”

October 4th, 2012
10:49 AM ET

Mark McKinnon: ‘I've never seen a debate as decisive as the one last night’

After a heated presidential debate late Wednesday, Mark McKinnon, contributor to The Daily Beast and former McCain campaign adviser, weighs in on “Starting Point.” McKinnon argues that the debate was the most decisive he’s seen and that he expects it to have an impact on voters.

“There were lots of people watching who really didn't know Mitt Romney,” McKinnon argues. “They know Obama, but they just heard a lot about Mitt Romney. And they saw a completely different person last night. They saw a guy in control, a guy who shared their values, a guy that they could trust. You know, all those sorts of attributes that people are looking for in a president, they saw in Mitt Romney last night.”

October 4th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Gov. Martin O’Malley: Debate ‘did not change’ ‘fundamental dynamics’ of presidential race

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) joined “Starting Point” Thursday to defend President Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate late Wednesday. O’Malley argues Romney “did not change the fundamental dynamics of the race, nor did he change some of the policies that got us into this economic mess.”

“I believe the big question that still needs to be answered is Governor Romney's so-called plan that he won't let anyone see about how it is that he can cut taxes and revenues by $4 trillion or $5 trillion, and somehow, tell us to just trust him, because behind door number three, there's a secret plan, he can't tell us about it until after the election is over. I think that was a blank that he was not able to fill in last night,” O’Malley says.

October 2nd, 2012
11:35 AM ET

Gov. Ted Strickland argues Obama campaign in Ohio 'strongest' he's 'ever seen'

With Mitt Romney beginning to tighten the gap between President Obama and himself in the latest CNN polls, Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH) joins “Starting Point” to discuss the upcoming presidential debate. Strickland argues that the Obama campaign in Ohio is the “strongest” he’s “ever seen” with an extensive grassroots effort.

“You don't count your chickens before they hatch and we're not going to do that,” Strickland says. “But we're voting in Ohio beginning today and people stayed up all night, camped out all night here in Ohio, waiting to be able to cast their votes this morning.”

Strickland also argues that despite the high unemployment rate, Obama is able to remain a slight lead in the polls because many Americans have “started to see” success “in the Midwest” and “in manufacturing states.” “Things are improving in America and we ought not to just turn around and go back to the same failed policies that brought on this recession in the first place,” Strickland says.

October 2nd, 2012
11:13 AM ET

Gov. Bob McDonnell: Romney should focus on economy, not immigration

With 35 days till the election, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney prepare to face off at the first presidential debate on Wednesday. While the debate will focus on both economic and domestic policy issues, Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) argues that Romney should concentrate on the economy, where he believes the Republican candidate has an edge. McDonnell also argues that questions on immigration will not hurt the Republican candidate, stating that immigration is not “an issue that is going to move a lot of voters.”

October 2nd, 2012
11:09 AM ET

RNC's Sean Spicer: Obama ‘gifted speaker,’ but Romney will lay out plans for future

With only one day left before the first presidential debate, Romney and Obama campaign surrogates have set out to lower expectations for their respective candidates.

Sean Spicer, the Communications Director for the Republican National Committee, sets out to do just that, arguing that while the president is “a gifted speaker” and can “wow a crowd,” Romney will “lay out very succinctly where he wants to take the country.”

“I don't think it's about who scores the most points or not,” Spicer says. “It's about laying out a vision for where we want this country to go.”

October 1st, 2012
11:54 AM ET

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): Presidential debate is ‘game changer’ for Mitt Romney

With less than six weeks until the 2012 election, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face off in the first presidential debate Wednesday. Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) argues that the debate will be a “game changer” for Romney, offering the former governor the chance to better communicate his message to the American public.

“The expectations are most Americans believe President Obama's going to win the debates,” Poe says. “That's why it's a great opportunity for Governor Romney to have an upset. He needs an upset. I think that he can do that on this debate and the next two debates. We go back historically, we remember it was a game changer when President Kennedy debated Richard Nixon.”

Filed under: 2012 Race • Mitt Romney • Presidential Debates
October 1st, 2012
10:53 AM ET

Brad Woodhouse argues presidential debates will reveal candidates' character

With 36 days left to the election, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are finishing last minute preparations for the first presidential debate on Wednesday. Brad Woodhouse, communications director of the Democratic National Committee, argues that the upcoming presidential debates give candidates the opportunity to show their character. Woodhouse argues that, unlike Romney, the president will steer clear of one-liners and zingers in favor of offering a compelling narrative to the American people.

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