Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty-four hours after the first presidential debate, both sides declared victory and the biggest loser in the debate may have been moderator Jim Lehrer.
For 90 minutes, PBS anchor Jim Lehrer looked as though he was moderating his first debate.
“Let’s just stay on task.” he told Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney just a few minutes into the debate.
Romney quickly responded, “Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate” and then continued a rebuttal aimed at his opponent President Barrack Obama.
A few minutes later Lehrer was seen on-camera rolling his eyes telling the candidates, “Excuse me, just so everybody understands we’re way over our first 15 minutes.”
In reality it was Lehrer’s 12th time moderating a presidential debate. Toward the end of the debate the 78-year veteran journalist seemed to be pleading with the debaters to let him do his job.
“I’m not going to grade the two of you, your answers have been too long, or I’ve done a poor job,” Lehrer said. President Obama quickly replied, “You’ve done a great job.” “Oh well,” Lehrer shot back.
University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski said it didn’t matter who was in the moderator seat Wednesday night.
“Imagine if you are running for President,” Uscinski said. “You want to look presidential. You do not want to get bossed around by a moderator.”
Lehrer was just one of the surprises that came in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver. Numbers, studies, and something called Dodd-Frank were flying around the room. “He just wants to repeal Dodd-Frank,” Obama proclaimed.
Romney then fired back on issues related to the bill pointing out its faults, “Let me mention another regulation in Dodd-Frank.”
UM student Steven Martin was scratching his head. He had never heard of Dodd-Frank. Neither had grad student Shannon Campbell. Debbie Rotolante, a Romney supported CBS4 met in Pinecrest admitted she had not heard of Dodd-Frank before Wednesday night’s debate.
Only one person we met, Enid Magari, an economics major at UM knew what they were talking about. “That’s a finance reform,” Magari said.
For those of you without an economics degree, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2010. It was the largest financial reform since the Great Depression and is 848 pages long.
It can be assumed most Americans have never read it. Uscinski says policy detail in last night’s debate is unusual, however much of what people saw had to do with motivating supporters.
“They are not trying to change people’s minds,” Uscinski said. “They are trying to influence the people who are already supporting them to give money and volunteer and get others to vote and get out and vote themselves.”
Still, everyone likes to pick a winner. As we interviewed various people in Coral Gables and Pinecrest opinions were split on who won. Undecided voter Shannon Campbell answered, “In my opinion, Romney.”
“I feel Obama won,” Tony Briggs countered.
It seems that debate is still up in the air except for perhaps Jim Lehrer who found his job on the line at the debate.
“I’m sorry Jim; I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney told Lehrer. Romney then tried not to make it personal by continuing, “I’m going to stop other things. I like Big Bird. I actually like you too.”
The candidates have two weeks to prepare for the next debate. The next Presidential debate is October 16th in New York. That debate will look more like a town hall forum. Then a week later South Florida host the last debate at Lynn University. The format expected to be the same as Wednesday night.