Look beyond the message to the man behind it

Published 11:00 pm Friday, September 28, 2012

This Wednesday, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will face off in the first of three televised presidential debates.

Already this week, efforts to put a spin on the debate were in full force, as Romney, the Republican challenger, tried to “lower the bar” for the first debate. What Mr. Romney may not understand is for millions of Americans, the bar cannot be lowered.

They expect the Republican challenger to make a statement – to resonate with the American public and challenge the incumbent during these debates. Political experts would warn that Mr. Romney must do just that to re-energize his falatering campaign.

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We believe these debates are important moments in our democratic process – an important opportunity for candidates to speak up, to answer each other, to challenge each other. Presidential debates in the past have given us some of the greatest insights into our leaders’ characters and platforms: from “Read my lips: no new taxes” to “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy. And they’ve also given us heartburn and disappointment when candidates fall into the spin of political rhetoric and fail to provide the answers we seek.

What this series of debates will offer remains a mystery. Given the high stakes in the 2012 election – one that features two candidates with vastly different visions for the future of America – we hope voters will see past the rhetoric and the spin to the message and the man behind it.