Barack Obama’s first debate performance against Mitt Romney has been criticized by pundits on the left and right following the president’s lackluster attack against the former Massachusetts governor. In what ABC News has referred to as a “Seinfeldian” strategy, Obama waited nearly 14 hours before issuing a rebuttal to Romney's statements.
"You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas,” said Romney last Wednesday during the first presidential debate held at the University of Colorado. “Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant."
Obama at the time didn't rebut Romney's assertions, some of which are either untrue or ill-informed. The president, however, has tried to make a comeback on the campaign trial.
"The guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn't even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing. He's never heard of them, never heard of them, never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He said that if it's true, he must need a new accountant," Obama told bewildered supporters at a morning-after rally in Denver. "Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney, because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant."
Obama's delayed response drew comparisons on Twitter to a classic “Seinfeld” episode -- “The Comeback.” In that episode, which aired on Jan. 30, 1997, Jason Alexander's character George Costanza is insulted by a coworker for eating too many shrimp, but he can't think of a witty comeback to the slight until driving to the gym to meet his best friend, Jerry.
Romney's Big Bird comment also seems to have scored points and has garnered a slew of viral hits.
"I like PBS, I love Big Bird," Romney said during the Oct. 3 debate. "I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for."
At the Denver rally, Obama retorted, "I mean, thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. It's about time." The crowd laughed and applauded.
Critics have mixed feelings about what is now being called Obama's rope-a-dope debate tactics. Althought ABC has referred to it as Obama’s “debate recovery,” the Christian Post called the attempt a “Failed ‘Jerk Store’ Comeback,” saying it was “too little too late.” (In another Seinfeld nod.)
That comparison was initially made on Twitter by Slate's Dave Weigel. “At speech in Colorado, President Obama tells Americans that the jerk store has run out of Mitt Romney,” Weigel tweeted on Oct. 4.
Obama and Romney will hold two more debates before voters head to the polls on Nov. 6.
On Oct. 16, a town-hall-styled meeting focused on ng foreign and domestic will be held at Hofstra University on Long Island; the two men will hold their final debate on Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., according to a schedule posted on an election news website.
In addition to the presidential debates, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, the two vice presidential candidates, will hold their first and only debate on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky. Both debates are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET.