In their view ...

Published:

The Oct. 16 debate was President Barack Obama's to win. Or lose.

After a performance in the first debate that was universally panned, there were just two possible outcomes for Obama: further damage to his campaign or the beginning of a recovery.

It was a reset for Obama.

The president came out strong, with a powerful and detailed vision for the future. He spoke clearly and forcefully to a room full of 82 undecided voters in New York and the nation.

From the start, Obama was in command, putting Gov. Mitt Romney on the defensive, calling out Romney's mischaracterizations of the governor's long-standing policies and revealing the hollowness of Romney's tax plan.

Unlike in the first debate, Obama refused to let Romney's shifting statements about his tax plan, about coal, about the federal government's rescue of the auto industry stand unchallenged.

Two weeks ago, we urged voters to look past style and focus on substance in these presidential debates. That was before the first debate when Obama won on substance but Romney clearly won the debate. We now see the power of style.

Romney emerged the winner because he appeared to embody the qualities you want in a president -- decisiveness, energy and toughness. He exuded confidence, telling voters he's the guy to follow.

In contrast, Obama was listless and didn't fight back, reinforcing a nagging fear that he's letting the Republicans in Congress bully him and that he lacks a plan for the next four years.

On Oct. 16, Obama turned that around. ...

It wasn't exactly a do-over but it was certainly a restart.

Chicago Sun-Times

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