Saturday October 13, 2012

Michael Reagan

Those were my cheers you heard coming from the Left Coast last Wednesday night.

I watched the Romney-Obama debate at my home in L.A., where I could hear the gasps and sobs of the creative community get louder and louder as Mitt came out swinging and never let up.

That wasn't a debate. It was "The Great Debacle" -- and everyone who watched it for three minutes knew Kid Romney was winning every round on substance and style.

I kept waiting for David Axelrod to throw a towel in the ring or referee Jim Lehrer to step in, wave his arms over his head and stop the fight on a technical knockout.

I've always said it'd be nice if we could have Newt Gingrich debate President Obama and then get Mitt Romney to run the country. But last week Romney proved to conservatives that he could do both.

Conservatives needed to see that Mitt, unlike John McCain, was going to take the fight to Barack Obama. Mitt didn't let them down.

Long before the mugging of the president ended, across the twittersphere conservatives were already calling it the best debate performance by Republican since Ronald Reagan whipped Jimmy Carter in 1980.

But that was a no-brainer. I tweeted that it was the GOP's best debate since Lincoln whipped Douglas.

I did that because I wanted to give Mitt his own moment of triumph, not to have to share it with Ronald Reagan.


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Mitt's performance reminded me of the time my father went to audition for a broadcasting job at radio station WOC in Quad Cities, Ill. The station owner told my father to go into a sound booth and recreate a football game.

Luckily, my father had done the play-by-play for a Eureka College game the week before. He recreated that game colorfully, using the players' names and describing the crowd reactions.

After five minutes, the station owner came in and stopped my father, slapping him on the back and saying, "You done good, you son of a bitch." My dad got the job and the rest was history.

Well, last week I wanted to say to Mitt, "You done good" -- without adding the last part.

After the debate I had people call me and ask if there had been a Ronald Reagan moment.

"No," I said. "The reality is, the whole debate was Romneyesque. Let Mitt stand alone. He took it to the president from the opening statement to the closing statement. He didn't have just one moment in time, he had many moments in time."

Conservatives for the first time are now able to feel comfortable supporting Mitt. The polls taken by Rasmussen and Pew in the last week showing significant gains by Romney in swing states and elsewhere are proof of that.

We're seeing the solidifying of conservatives and some movement by independents. But in order to keep the independents and Reagan Democrats on board, Mitt has to double down and outbox Obama in the next two debates.

It will be tough. You can count on President Obama being better in the second debate. He won't be sullen and playing rope-a-dope like Muhammad Ali; he'll be throwing left hooks and rabbit punches.

But I think Mitt can rise to the challenge and improve in the next debate too. People have to understand, Mitt is no featherweight.

You do not get to the top in the business world and run companies like Bain Capital if you are a pushover or an idiot.

You have to know how to fight for what you want but also know how to negotiate. You have to know how to close the deal. Mitt closed the deal when he saved the Winter Olympics.

Now he needs to close the deal on winning the presidency so he can save the United States of America from four more years of Obama.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution." He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. His column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.