Chris Matthews of MSNBC seems to think it was decidedly Romney. He was apparently so frustrated that after the debate he demanded President Obama watch his and his colleagues' shows at MSNBC to learn a thing or two.
From Real Clear Politics (10/3/2012):
Chris Matthews Freaks Out At Obama After Debate: Romney Was "Winning"
"Tonight wasn't an MSNBC debate tonight, was it?" Chris Matthews said after the first Obama-Romney presidential debate concluded on Wednesday night.
"I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. He had a plan, he was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive, he was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively, he was going to relish the evening, enjoying it," Matthews said.
"Here's my question for Obama: I know he likes saying he doesn't watch cable television but maybe he should start. Maybe he should start. I don't know how he let Romney get away with the crap he throughout tonight about Social Security," Matthews complained.
Matthews then demanded that President Obama start watching cable news, specifically his program.
"Where was Obama tonight? He should watch -- well, not just Hardball, Rachel, he should watch you, he should watch the Reverend Al [Sharpton], he should watch Lawrence. He would learn something about this debate. There's a hot debate going on in this country. You know where it's been held? Here on this network is where we're having the debate," Matthews said.
"We have our knives out," Matthews said, admitting his network is trying their best to defend Obama and his policies. "We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in their disarmed."
"He was like, 'Oh an hour and half? I think I can get through this thing. And I don't even look at this guy.' Whereas Romney -- I love the split-screen -- staring at Obama, addressing him like prey. He did it just right. 'I'm coming at an incumbent. I got to beat him. You've got to beat the champ and I'm going to beat him tonight. And I don't care what this guy, the moderator, whatever he thinks he is because I'm going to ignore him," Matthews said.
"What was Romney doing?" Matthews asked. "He was winning."
"If he does five more of these nights, forget it," Matthews added. "Obama should watch MSNBC, my last point. He will learn something every night on this show and all these shows. This stuff we're watching, it's like first grade for most of us. We know all this stuff."
Washington Times, near-polar opposite of MSNBC in terms of political leaning, thinks so too. The paper says Obama was the worst since Jimmy Carter (against Ronald Reagan), and that's an insult to Mr. Carter.
From Washington Times after the debate (10/3/2012):
HURT: Obama the debater: Making Jimmy Carter look awesome
Party like it’s 1980!
Bewildered and lost without his teleprompter, President Obama flailed all around the debate stage last night. He was stuttering, nervous and petulant. It was like he had been called in front of the principal after goofing around for four years and blowing off all his homework.
Not since Jimmy Carter faced Ronald Reagan has the U.S. presidency been so embarrassingly represented in public. Actually, that’s an insult to Jimmy Carter.
The split screen was most devastating. Mitt Romney spoke forthrightly, with carefully studied facts and details at the ready. He looked right at the president and accused him of being miles out of his depth.
Mr. Obama? His eyes were glued to his lectern, looking guilty and angry and impatient with all the vagaries of Democracy. This debate was seriously chaffing him.
What exactly was Mr. Obama’s strategy here? Did he figure with so many people unemployed in this abomination of an economy he should go for the sympathy vote? Like voters could relate to a guy who is just scared pantsless that he is about to lose his job?
In the middle of the blood-letting segment about jobs, Mr. Romney said good-naturedly: “This is fun.”
Almost pleading, Mr. Obama reached out to the moderator for a lifeline: “You may want to move onto another topic.”
When an unexpected noise went off behind him, Mr. Obama wheeled around to look as if to ask, “Time to go?”
(Full article at the link)
Mr. Obama is very good at reading English off his teleprompter, that's for sure. He is not good at holding a two-way conversation on the fly without his teleprompter. Mr. James Carville tries to make excuse for Mr. Obama by saying Romney "came with a chainsaw", as if being prepared and ready to shred the opponent to pieces is a bad thing in the presidential debate.