Lincoln expert reveals thoughts on Obama and Romney debates

Most pundits, left and right, think Romney won the first round.  Even the President has conceded that he had a bad night.  

But Gene Griessman, author of the new book Lincoln and Obama believes Romney hurt himself in the first debate.  Griessman says Romney made mistakes that will linger after people quit talking about who was the most effective debater.

Griessman’s book examines parallels and similarities between the 16th and 44th presidents. (

Griessman sees a parallel between the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 and the 2012 debates between Obama and Romney.

Here are Griessman’s comments:

A lot of people thought Douglas won the debates with Lincoln.   We want to believe that Lincoln demolished Douglas. But that was not the perception at the time.  

Douglas was a formidable debater–confident and powerful. Even when Douglas misstated facts or when an opponent landed a blow on him, Douglas didn’t show it.  

But Douglas made some statements in those debates that upset many voters, and hurt him badly in his presidential race.

Romney, during the debate, was concise and self-confident. Obama was almost deferential.  Many said the same thing about the way Lincoln spoke to Douglas.

But Obama said nothing that will cost him votes, and Romney did.

For example, Romney attacked PBS and Big Bird.  That will certainly cost him  votes, maybe quite a few votes.

Millions of Americans love public television and public radio.  In fact, on November 3rd, PBS supporters will rally together for the Million Muppet March.

Romney’s comments reminded them that he and the Tea Party are the enemy of public television and public radio.

That is a problem for Romney, who already is in a world of trouble with Latinos, blacks, and women.

Douglas and Lincoln parallel Romney and Obama.  This next debate will reveal more similarities to explore.

Gene Griessman is a sociologist and creator of a one-man play “Lincoln Live.” An excerpt from the book and additional similarities are at