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WILLIAMS: The great debate and the clear difference it can make

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Mitt Romney's stated policies in business during the first presidential debate: Champion the growth and development for the middle class. Until now, Mr. Romney's position was widely perceived as one of the biggest enemies to the middle class. One of his most powerful moments during the debate was the contrast he illustrated between the president's decision to finance the five big banks while allowing small banks across America to fail. Some credit should be given to the president, however, for his short-term policies to save the banks and the wise business decision to make interest from the banks that were saved through the bailout.

It is clear that Mr. Romney's business experience empowered him with practical solutions for the restoration of the U.S. economy. There was a glaring contrast between President Obama and Mitt Romney during the debate. Mr. Romney's philosophy is a better friend to the middle class than Mr. Obama's. The American people now must decide whether Mr. Obama's experience and philosophy can provide a more sustained recovery from the Great Recession.

Mr. Romney's recent statement about the 47 percent of the population should be filtered through the lens of his business philosophy and business practices. Welfare is not a disgrace, but should be a transition. Business-friendly policies that are transparent and fair are color- and gender-blind. Mr. Romney was passionate and compassionate about his determination in what he called helping "the hurting people." You can mask your philosophy for a season, but it will be exposed eventually.

Mr. Obama's philosophy on the economy is severely flawed and leads to a culture of entitlement rather a culture of earning, which is what makes and will continue to make America great. The entitlement culture creates a you-owe-me mentality, an addiction to the welfare economy. Access through fair policies, diligence and innovation creates and cultivates an ardent desire to dominate our U.S. and global economy. A welfare state cannot preserve or protect the legacy of our country that stands tall among nations as the greatest economic engine ever known to mankind.

The consensus seems to be that Mr. Romney overwhelmingly won the debate. I think it was a slight victory in terms of debate performance, but, in terms of significance, a slight victory is more than it sounds. Mr. Romney hasn't had much of a chance to speak directly to the American people. He has been mediated by spin for a year. A good performance in the first prime-time debate can make up for a lot of that, and help overcome some of the advantages that all incumbents necessarily have.

Mr. Romney got a full five minutes less in airtime than the president, and often had to struggle to get in rebuttals. I would much prefer a Lincoln-Douglas style debate, or even a simple conversation. Put the two men on stage, sit them down with a timer, and let them simply talk directly to Americans.

The president's biggest weakness was his inability to stay focused. Mr. Romney subtly mocked this at one point. The president didn't seem to know for sure what he was trying to say. He was forced — and willingly accepted — to defend the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, an unelected body that makes final policy on approval for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements and coverage. When you're defending the advisory board, you're doing it wrong.

The president seems to think that it's 2008 again, and not because he talked about George W. Bush (he didn't mention that unutterable name, any more than he mentioned Voldemort). Why hasn't he done the things he says we ought to do? It's not good enough simply to say that Republicans control the House of Representatives: For the first two years, Mr. Obama had his hands on all the levers of the federal government. Even if the Republicans did control Congress, why is the president so weak that he can do nothing despite it? Why won't there be four more years of gridlock if he is re-elected? The president's complaints about the existence of Republicans in Congress sounds a lot like "This job is too hard for me."

CBS News assembled 500 people for a poll after the debate: Mr. Romney won by a 2-1 margin. He did a great job and should take a great deal of confidence with him on the campaign trail.

The vice presidential debate is Thursday. I can't wait. If Paul Ryan can thoroughly beat Joseph R. Biden — which no one, even the most confident Democrats doubts — then the Republicans can regain some momentum.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius Power 128 from 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside. Read his content on RightSideWire.com.

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