Now Playing:


Think Out Loud

Reaction to the First Presidential Debate

Pete Springer/OPB

Millions of people tuned into the presidential debate last night. It was the much-anticipated first joint appearance of President Barack Obama and GOP rival, Mitt Romney. A lot has been made of the candidates preparations for the event, the expectations for each candidate and speculations about how much and whether debates “really” matter — especially since candidates notoriously attempt to stick to their talking points, rather than actually answering the question. 

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer, of the PBS NewsHour, told us earlier this year that trying to get actual answers from candidates is “the hardest game in town,” but that the attempt is crucial:  

I believe strongly, these debates are for one purpose, and for one purpose only. And that is for the benefit of the voters. And I feel as a moderator, I have an obligation to make sure that the voters have picked up whatever it is that needs to be picked up.

During the national conventions for the two major parties, Dave Miller spoke with some young people who came across the country to be part the process. We’ll check back in with two of them to see what they picked up from the debates. We’ll also find out from Lewis & Clark debate coach Joe Gantt how he thought the candidates performed overall, and his take on the purpose of these highly-scripted campaign events.

How did you think the candidates performed? Did anything surprise you? Did anything change your mind?


  • Amos Rothstein: Republican college student
  • Celine Swenson-Harris: Democratic college student
  • Joe Gantt: Director of forensics and instructor of Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis & Clark
2012 election debates economy politics president

More Think Out Loud

More OPB

Join the Conversation

Send Think Out Loud A Message

Also This Hour

Culture Club

OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 4, 2012