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October 5th, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Nicholas Kristof on Obama's debate performance: "He blew it"

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof sits down with Piers Morgan this evening at 9 and talks to Morgan about President Barack Obama's lackluster performance in Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver, Colo.

"He blew it," exclaims Kristof.

"It is a paradox. We have somebody who is the best communicator I know of at his best and he was really at his worst," the two-time Pulitzer prize winner says. "I think there are various theories."

Kristof isn't buying most of the theories as to why Obama didn't perform at his best:

"I think he also may have just not been, not been training adequately and been unused to being targeted that directly ... In almost any situation the best explanation is incompetence rather than conspiracy."

Watch the clip, listen to the interview, then tune in tonight as Kristof and McCain continue the conversation with a look at the situation in the Middle East.

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Filed under: America's Choice 2012
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. inferencial

    Piers, Should Romney win the election, the world will be in serious ....s....t

    October 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nancy

      What we are seeing is entertainment. Romney did his usual used car salesman's trick of lying. In all honesty a small percentage will fall for his tricks. Americans are not that stupid to get lemons for the next four years.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • S. Bernal

        A CNN poll gave Romney a clear win at 67% vs 25%. That's not a small percentage; and no, that 67% are not stupid; the 25% ozombies are the stupid ones.

        October 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • SwingstatePat

        I am an Obama supporter, but I must admit that I was taken aback and even angry at how poorly the President performed in this debate. I certainly hope he does not continue to look so withered in 'Rominee's' presence.
        I grant that many of Romney's statements embedded so many logical fallacies even an expert logician would find them dizzyingly tedious to unravel. It is difficult to respond to an avalanche of false claims, faulty cause-effect relationships, oversimplifications, trumped up statistics, and unsubstantiated generalizations. But some very blatant errors could easily have been attacked. Massachusetts has been #1 in education for decades and Romney had nothing to do with this. The MA legislature had more to do with balancing its budget than Romney did. If Romney is a proponent of lower taxe burdens, what's with all those fees he raised? Higher fees are worse than taxes–you cannot deduct them. ...And money out of my pocket into the government's coffers is a tax no matter what you call it. As MA governor, he was hardly a gem. His poor record is well-established. Why didn't Obama come back fighting? I am no politician, but I would diffuse the Romney swan song about his governorship by asking, "So why did you not run for re-electon if you were such an effective governor?" Put him on the spot.
        Concerning taxes, I wonder how he can say he will not raise taxes but will get rid of deductions. If he eliminates key deductions, then our tax burden increases anyway. So what's the difference?
        It aso amazes me that he is willing to throw billions of dollars at the military but begrudges millions spent on Sesame Sreet. PBS is not pork barrel; military spending is the mother of all pork barrel spending. In the end the beneficiaries of pork barrel military spending are not the military but all those big military corporations which Eisenhower warned us about. You know–the ones that charge billions for oftimes ineffective warcraft. WHat in his plan does Romney propose for the veterans, I wonder?
        So there you go. Orwellian Romney. He wont' raise taxes but he will increase our tax burden. He wants a strong military but he thinks strength is accomplished by throwing money at the pentagon. And I have not even touched Health Care which encompassses more than I have time to write.
        Obama could have made all these points in a strong debate showing. I feel cheated in a way tat they were not and that now Romney has become a more serious candidate not because of Crossroads or the Koch Brothers but because Obama wilted in the face of his imperious and overwhelming ignorance.

        October 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Franky

        He did, he lied, cheated, stole, said whatever he needed to ... I've never a candidate do such a blatent about face, and you know what ... it still worked.

        October 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • snooop1e

      It's interesting watching Liberals go through contortions trying to explain why Obama was destroyed in the debate with Romney. The simple fact is Obama could not stand up to Romney because Obama has no answers. Obama has grown up in a culture that convinced him that success = colonialism. Obama could not counter Romney's statements simply because he has no credible answers. Obama is community organizer and a motivational speaker who is very good at swaying people through his speech but he does not understand America and he definitely has no idea how to create the conditions by which the economy will prosper. Over the past 4 years Obama's policies have failed miserably and the only thing he has "Left" are speeches and devisiveness. I wish him and Michelle well after he is defeated in November.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

        Did President Obama really loose the debate? First and foremost, the President was interrupted 8 times by Jim Lehrer to ZERO interruption for Mitt Romney. When the President tried to respond to one of Romney's comments during the first question of the debate, Jim Lehrer interrupted and told the President that since he went first, Romney would have the last say on the first question. But although Romney went first on the second question, he still ended up having the last say on the second question. OUTRAGEOUS! At one point during the debate, after Lehrer interrupred the President for the 6th time, the President has to tell him that he had five seconds to comment before he was interrupted. Furthermore, Romney was babbling 4,5,6 minutes after his time was up and Lehrer never said a word to Romney. That debate was clearly fixed by the right wing establishment. I know the President always play by the rules but Romney never ever believed in rules. Nevertheless, I know that the Presidnet won the debate because he played by the rules while Romney did not as he was given a free pass and an advantage at the debate.

        Obama/Biden 2012 by a LANDSLIDE! (Just wait till blacks and hispanics and women and gays and lesbians and seniors and students cast their vote). All the voter suppression in the world won't help flip-flopping-etch-a-sketching robmoney.

        October 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

        Everyone is asking why was the President looking down at his notes while Romney spoke (rambled). Well, there's a simple explanation for that. The President was just wondering when the heck was Lehrer going to say to Romney, your time is up. And when Romney started babbling for 4,5,6 minutes after his time was up, the President kept looking at Lehrer and smiling as to say, what the hell is going on here. There's only one problem with this President and that is he's too nice. But the next two debates are going to be different.

        October 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • tom335

        good comments snooop1e, wow the blah blah person is confused- the moderator had very little impact and the president clearly didn't have command of the issues when you went an inch below the rhetoric. He'll likely improve in coming debates but clearly Romney is smarter and has some background in business and politics- whereas the idea of putting a community organizer in the oval office with no experience was simply a mistake.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Griff.

    "Think I have a chance tonight, Pierse?? I will do my usual on Karaoke, except this time 'She' will be listening like never before. Will I make it 'All the Way' tonight??"

    October 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Donald

    Why dont you get the facts right... the last three Presidents have hunted Osama Bin Ladin. Obama was on duty when he was taken out- he didnt do it. SEALS did it as they would have under any President.
    Maybe we can get them to take out Big Bird and get you to shut up about it

    October 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. AUdrey

    President Obama is not incompetent I think he was tired and just disgusted with the lies that Biden keeps switching his agenda. Did you see his speech in Wisconsin the following day?

    October 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ninja

      Obama saw the white paper Romney was carrying with him. He should have confronted Romney right away.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • bhartman36

        That wasn't a piece of paper. It was a handkerchief. This has been debunked on numerous news sites. Check the video. You can see him wiping his brow with the "piece of paper".

        October 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maureen Halpin

    Question, I would like to know if the candidates in the Denver debate were allowed to bring notes, I noticed that Romney slipped notes from his right hand pockets and placed them on the podium just before the debate?

    October 5, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ninja

      This was seen by all.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Audrey

    Romney keeps switching that has really upset President Obama that was the problem. Romney is a liar

    October 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ninja

      Not only liar but a cheat as well.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • athina

      how do we know for sure who is lying and who is not? i think persanally there are alot of things about the government that we are not being told. we dont really know how to next 12 months is going to roll about but who ever is in office is going ot have to know what they are doing.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Nana

    Mr Salman Khan has so much to give to any one willing to learn. Hope we will see more of him on your show.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jane

    What a jerk Jack Welsh is. Hope he sewed for slander.

    October 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      "Sewed?" You are the a-typical Obama lover! He's a loser!

      October 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jackie DeFreitas

    In the Presidential debate, Romney said that he was able to negotiate compromises with the bi-partisan legislature and then noted that Obama had not been able to get Congress to work with him. Obama not only was fighting the Republican party on issues, but the stubborn determination of the Tea Party not to agree to anything Obama put forward. How would Romney work with a legislature basically split into 3 parts, with one part unwilling to compromise or agree to anything he proposed? Would he have been so successful at getting his agenda passed?

    October 6, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • bhartman36

      Obama was able to get the ACA passed. He was also able to get other legislation through. When he *wanted* to work with Republicans, he could.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Peter

    Mr. Morgen, please help. Why people are saying Mr. Romney has won the debate while there has been no debate? I am puzzled. Or is it the real level of an American deabte? Not even mention it is one of the presidential debates? Do the American voters interested in the policies? Or they just want to be entertained?

    October 6, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. PETAUD

    CNN is beginning to slant it's new like Fox,it appears to be losing it's credibility daily.I am not sure you can maintain your old status.

    October 6, 2012 at 5:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jon

      Get some facts.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Shu

    I think Obama was shocked at the debate that a totally different Romney appeared at the podium. He lied and changed
    the positions of so many issues right in front of us. How can you debate a man without a conviction of what he really
    believe ? To a point that Obama just ignored what Romny was saying and delivered what he wants to do for the country.
    Listen carefully, I for one do not think Romney is the winner. I came out with a negative opinion towards Romny and I am an INDEPENDENT.

    October 6, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al Sanchez

      I'm an independent too and you are completey wrong!!!

      No more 4 more years!

      ROMNEY 2012!!

      October 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc94

      After the debate, Romney aides "clarified" his position on pre-existing conditions (he doesn't really support coverage like he told at teh debate –unless someone has continuous insurance (law since 1996) so if you get diagnosed w/ cancer while unemployed, you are toast). Such "clarifications" remind me of a salesman who shows you some extra "print" just before yo usign the deal. If you observe him carefully, he is not honest – he presents dishonest positions to the general public then "clarifies" later (small print) to his conservative buddies when out of the big spotlight. This is liar not a leader.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Carl

    Sad! Piers not telling Cristoff that the BBC is not free! It's paid for by the British taxpayer via a mandatory annual t.v. tax/license, not subsidized by the government like PBS! Selective memory!? Big Bird, via the Henson corp is one of the richest companies in the world. Why can't they provide the 1%+ subsidy, rather than the American taxpayer!?

    October 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Dr. Fuad Malik

    Piers Morgan sucks. CNN made its worst mistake. The sequel to kiss ass Robin Leach? He is going to tell us how to keep America great? I am an American. I love my country. I love my people. I will not hear from an expatriate who does not know from his head and ass how to run our affairs. It is such a degrade to see my fellow citizen replaced by this untrustwirthy kiss ass to oppurtunity. Notice he talks over his guests all the time? In his country a man like him is called a cad and a kerr. I promise you, I am the American he willnot talk over. I will teach him the Queen's manners. We love our country. Do not come here and teach us how to do it. We are and will be the first nation. We are great. That is why you are here. Do not dare to tell us how to keep America great.

    October 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Latino

      Roman Empire fell because of arrogance. No one is saying don't love your country, please remove your blinders and see what's becoming of our country. We are not what it's made out to be.Bush created the modern day crusade based on lies. Our great country will be bankrupt in 3 years. Israel will take us into another war based on more lies and China owns more of America than you know. Who will you be blaming when you wake up? Pierce Morgan.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ALBERT

    listen America..I've lived 85 yrs..Romney is DISHONEST 7 DANGEROUS...the stock mkt will plunge,,Romney will begin World 3 & 4..he will send out sons & grandsons to war,,BUT his sons will never serve in the Military..neither did he,,nor his Dad..& where are ALL the income tax returns? he has tax shelters in 6 countries..he does not pay US taxes on his money abroad...He just wants to be the Pres..because it will give him the POWER,,he really very insecure,,w/a big ego & a strong one...he does not care @ the the hidden tape he says"the economy will fix itself..I will not do anything @ it"...Hope the American people can see thru him..they did not see thru Bush & Cheney...God Bless B ObAMA & GOD BLESS AMERICA !...

    October 8, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • snooop1e

      Albert, you and I will be long gone when our children and grandchildren are struggling to survive because of the massive amount of borrowing and spending by this Administration. If Obama's redistribution model actually worked Europe would not be on the brink of economic collapse.......and neither would we. You most likely were educated in the public school system where you learned that people succeeding without government assistance is not possible and those who do succeed should be looked down upon and have their assets seized by the Government and given to those who have not worked hard to succeed. If you think about it American did not become a superpower by implementing Obama's redistribution model. America became the strongest economy in the world through hard work and sacrifice also known as CAPTIALISM.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • JohnnyUSA

        Its not only Obama – its Bush/Cheney, Clinton, Reagen. Crony Capitalism is destroying this country. Get rid of extremists from both Left and Right. Get rid of Lobbyists, SuperPACs. Have term limits. Why do the senators and congressman serve for a long time? They should have two terms max like the President. Don't get involved in the middle east. We do not need bases all over the world. Lets not go down like the Romans or the Brits. Lets just focus here and nation build at home!!

        October 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Fact over fiction

        Obama came into office w/ 1.4 trillion debt DUE TO BUSH borrowing $$ to pay for the Iraq war...his wonderful plan to drop top tax rates didn't bring in the $$$ to cover a war -another trickle down economics failure! We have the debt because of an unpaid war – spending under Obama has been that high & the net debt has gone down !.1 trillion -not up. Check your facts – if you don't the debt, why don't all the BUSH FANS PAY FOR THEIR WAR by agreeing to higher taxes. NOW THAT'S PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

        October 9, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
      • Fact over fiction

        Obama came into office w/ 1.4 trillion debt DUE TO BUSH borrowing $$ to pay for the Iraq war...his wonderful plan to drop top tax rates didn't bring in the $$$ to cover a war -another trickle down economics failure! We have the debt because of an unpaid war – spending under Obama has NOT been that high & the net debt has gone down to 1.1 trillion -not up. Check your facts – if you don't like the debt, why don't all the BUSH FANS PAY FOR THEIR WAR by agreeing to higher taxes. NOW THAT'S PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

        October 9, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Al Sanchez


      October 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I have to laugh at both conservatives and liberals who say the President lost the debate because he didnt say this and didn't say that. Let's face it, Romney has been on te campaign trail for more than a year and there's a whole lot he hasn't said about foreign and domestic issues but all of a sudden Romney is the best man for the job? Really? Well, let's review...So far Romney has accused the President of inflating the national deficit as a result of passing the American Recovery Act or stimulus package to stabilize and grow the economy. Yet, Romney has failed to explain how he would have gone about differently, stabilizing and growing the economy and averting a depression without passage of a recovery legislation. Throughout the campaign trail he has accused the President of not doing anything to help the middle class, but he's yet to eplain how billions of stimulus dollars to help small businesses stay afloat and meet their payroll during the economic crisis is not doing anything to help the country recover. He's yet to explain how two consecutive years of unemployment and health insurance benefits to help millions of unemployed Americans keep food on the table and a roof over their love ones' heads while they search for work is not helping the middle class. But he is yet to explain how he would have gone about helping to stabilize and grow the broken American economy differently or how he would have hepled the millions of unemployed Americans find work and support their families without passage of a stimulus bill. And while Romney likes to accuse the President of inflating the national deficit, he is yet to explain how the President is responsible for the 5 trillion dollars the GOP has wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    When it comes to foreign policy, Romney likes to catergorize the President as being weak on Iran, though the sanctions imposed on Iran by this administration are the most stringent sanctions imposed on any foreign country in world history. Furthermore, Romney just gave a foreign policy speech a few hours ago and he is yet to explain how he'd go about handling Iran differently. He has blamed the President for the recent unrest in the Arab world but he failed to explain how the President caused the unrest or how he would have prevented the unrest from happening in the first place. He has criticized the President's policy on Syrian which called for arming the rebels and working with allies to contain and weaken Assad but today he tells the American people that he's go about handling Syria differently by arming the rebels and working with allies to weaken the Assad regime. Incompetent lying idiot! Let's face it, President Obama has been transparrent and specific fron day one and Romney has not.

    Obama/biden 2012 by a LANDSLIDE!

    October 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ca powell

      ditto...enough said...

      October 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc94

      Thanks for the sanity. Can't beleive that anyone would buy what Romney is selling through he could sell a 90 yr old granny a motorcycle (he would sell his granny if he thought it would help him win). Yes, he been on the trail & he's got lots of practice debating while Obama has been busy govn & was probably very rusty going into thet debate.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  17. annie

    ditto....enough said ....let's pray for a Landslide !,,,

    October 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. INEZ

    BAD advice for the President from:: Axelrod...Plouffe,,,,Kerry,,,etc,,,,was difficult for hm to be himself..better luck the next 2 times....doesn't he ever get angry..there are so many things to get angry about..does he want to win? yes or no ....please win & help us seniors..the poor,,,the veterans,,the middle class,,,people w/disabilities..especially children w/Autism..thank you..

    October 9, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  19. T. Harris

    It doesn't matter who gets elected, we will see in the coming years how true this is, if we have already seen it.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Candlewick

    Why isn't CNN reporting on Obama's big lie during the debate where he completely misrepresented the economic report on Romney's tax cut plan? One of the authors of the analysis stopped short of calling Obama a liar today. I see many here calling Romney a liar, and they may be right, but there's plenty of that going around. Why does Obama get a pass on everything?

    October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. DLW

    The most reasonable interpretation of the debate result is not that one side had a better story, that the moderator was ineffective or even that the Governor was untruthful or deceptive. The best interpretation of the result is that the President thought he had the election won and was running out the clock. He ignored the Governor for the most part. We've seen that each side has their own narrative, so the idea of one narrative completely running over the other (a la Brit Hume) is pretty funny. Both the President and the Governor mostly ignored the moderator. The Governor tacked to the center – that tactic is as old as Richard Nixon and if it came as a surprise, shame on the President. The President had a bad game plan and did not take the Governor seriously. The Governor was disciplined but unchallenged. That won't be the case in the next debates. It will be impossible to contain the expectations for the Governor. The President will most likely overperform expectations. Then we'll see how the public reacts.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    let me see if I get this right...

    Mitt Romney has gained significant ground in the national polls all of a sudden simply because President Obama did not attack him on Bain Capital, on outsourcing American jobs, on laying off American workers, on calling for the auto industry to go bankrupt, on tax evasion, on saying its not his job to worry about 47% of the American people, on saying that he's not concerned about the poor because there's a safety net for them, on saying that he likes to fire people, on his failure to support equal pay for equal work, on Massachusetts being 47th in job growth, on saying its not worth moving heaven and earth to find Bin Laden...???

    So doesn't President Obama get any credit at all for stabilizing the American economy, for saving the auto industry, for creating 5.2 million private sector jobs, for saving 2.2 million public sector jobs, for making healthcare affordable for all Americans, for reforming Wall Street to safeguard against another catastrophic economic meltdown, for ending the illegitimate Iraqi war, for setting a deadline to end the Afghan war, for restoring our image, trust and credibility abroad?

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Doesn't the President get any credit for strenghtening our national security by getting rid of OBL and thousands of other al Qaeda operatives?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
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