The Rachel Maddow Show | October 04, 2012
>>> the president began this segment so i think i get the last word. so i'm going to take it.
>> you're going to get the first word in the next segment.
>> he gets the first word of that segment. i get the last word of that segment. let me just make this comment. i'm sorry, jim, i'm going to stop the subsidy to pbs . i like pbs , i love big bird . i actually like you, too. i'm not going to keep spending bhun on thi money on things --
>> let's --
>> let's get back to medicare. the president said the government could provide it at a lower cost without a profit. let's --
>> let's not. let's let him respond. let's let him respond to this specific on dodd/frank and what the governor just said.
>> massachusetts governor mitt romney rolling over the debate moderator, jim lehrer , of pbs last night during the first presidential debate of this campaign season. joining us now for the interview is dan rather , host of " dan rather reports" on access tv . anchor of cbs' "evening news" for 20 years and a veteran observer of the campaigns. thank you.
>> always a pleasure to be here.
>> what is your reaction overall to the debate last night? i am assuming you think mitt romney won the debate. what do you think is important about it?
>> i think what's important about it is it gives governor romney a answchance to get a second look from the electorate. when he was in a bad patch after the 47%. you said, what does he need? not to make any more big mistakes and needs an outstanding first debate. the advantage for romney now, a lot of people, most importantly independent swing voters and undecideds in the key battleground states , he has an opportunity to get a second look. i would say the danger -- there's a danger for the obama people. the danger for the romney people is that they start moon dancing in the end zone , begin high fiving saying we've turned this whole thing around. i think it's very dangerous for them. on the obama side, important to remember, yes, they were beaten, but you take the view, i can be beaten but never defeated. this doesn't mean he's lost the whole election by any stretch of the imagination. clearly they're going to have to rethink whatever strategy they had last night. i found this a very curious performance by president obama . puzzling to say the least. but as you pointed out, the historical record shows two things. one of which you just detailed atlan and that is the challenger usually wins the first debate.
>> why do you think that is? i mean, i was surprised going back at the record to find five of six previous examples were such clear victories for the challenger.
>> well, i think there are two main reasons. number one, americans love an underdog and love a good fight. they love a good game. they love a good race. there's natural undertow, if you will, for the underdog. the second is the president, he's busy with a lot of things during his presidency. and he doesn't have the time to prepare. and give mitt romney credit. for those who say, well, he was lucky last night. listen, where preparation meets opportunity, that's what a lot of people call luck. he was enormously prepared. he also had gone through 19 debates during the primary season. had spent a great deal of time preparing for this debate, whereas, it's no excuse, president obama had a lot of other things to think about. i also think president obama made the classic mistake, which is to underestimate his opponent. and the second mistake, this is a long list, that he viewed this apparently more as a seminar than a debate. where you want to say, sir, please, excuse me, mr. president, sir, this is a debate, not a seminar. there were moments when he came off rather professorial rather than seeking re-election.
>> there are factors of holding the presidency, itself, that disincline a president toward a good debate against a challenger and the way you're describing there. are there historical precedents of chief executives, of presidents turning it around and doing a much better job in subsequent debates? are they structurally bound by what it means to be president that they can't be good debaters or do they learn?
>> each case stands on its merits. there have been cases over the years where it's a wake-up call, that romney delivers his own political version of shock and awe to obama and his campaign. president obama will be much more prepared and pay more attention next time. one point we should point out i think, the vice presidential debate scheduled for next week is always nearly kind of a throwaway. people watch but don't pay much attention to it. the stakes are raised now for the paul ryan versus joe biden debate. the obama campaign i don't think can afford the perception that they lost two in a row. i would think vice president joe biden 's fingernails are beginning to sweat about next wednesday because he's somewhat in the same position as president obama . he's been vice president in for four years. had a lot of things going. been a long time since he's debated. paul ryan has been in the cut and thrust of congress, to be better prepared. however, ryan is in the shoes president obama was in last night and the expectations are high for ryan. i think most people feel that paul ryan will walk joe biden 's dog in this debate, and that's a down for venture that the vice presidential debate may get the largest audience of any vice presidential deda debate we've had so far.
>> in 2008 with the introduction of sarah palin was the first time the vice presidential debate was ever the highest ratest debarate e ed debate. we have this again.
>> governor romney , last night, people say he mangled the truth to put it gently. the obama campaign -- they did a smart thing today. got up bright and early this morning realizing they took a loss last night and began pointing out where governor romney had not said what he said before, had not stuck to the truth. however, we learned again last night, if we needed reminding, that there's power in taking the view. listen, i'm frequently in error, but never in doubt. i believe what i'm telling you. and that carries its own power and strength.
>> especially when you're talking to 50 million or 60 million people at a time. that is a perfect segue to everything we're doing in the rest of the hour on this show. dan rather , always such an honor to have you.
>> thank you, rachel. enjoy to be on.
>> " dan rather reports" is on