8:35 a.m. E.T.
My “Morning Joe” debate Take on what happened and what it all means, as far as one can tell:
MARK HALPERIN: I think the President won, for two reasons, mostly. One is Libya, an issue the Republicans thought they’d have an advantage on and instead Romney gave an incredibly weak answer. The President gave a very strong one, I think, potentially taking the issue off the table the rest of the way, including in the national security debate. And Romney loses as a politician when his opponents get inside his head on being rich, and supporting policies which would seem to favor the rich. I thought the President did it all night and Romney showed it. The guy from Denver was largely not there.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: What’s with the divergence in who won and who handled the economy better? That’s obviously job number one this year.
MARK HALPERIN: Thing is [the polls] are kind of baffling. I mean, we often have conflicting data. I think this is very baffling. There’s no doubt that going into the debate the big question was would the President have another bad debate. There’s no doubt that he didn’t have a bad debate. He had some bad moments, as Governor Romney did. I don’t think— there’s no one in the country who said anything to me, in my own judgment, that’s compelling about what this does to the race. I don’t think, I don’t know that anybody knows.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It’ll certainly stop the bleeding.
MARK HALPERIN: I’m not willing to say that. Certainly, I don’t think it accelerates it necessarily but I don’t know that it stops Romney’s march towards closing the gaps because of advertising and other factors. In other words, I don’t know that it put the President in a stronger position, even though I think he got the better of the contest. I think it’s, not because of the mixed data, but because of the confusion about how people would view that in its totality. I just don’t know.
MARK HALPERIN: I just want to say one thing we haven’t brought up yet that I think is incredibly important. The President did not lay out a second term agenda. And, if there’s an undercurrent here that could really hurt him, not in the room because it wasn’t evident. It was absent. He didn’t lay out a second term agenda anymore than he did in the first debate and that is where he’s weakest and he didn’t address it, I thought, at all.
Watch the video above.