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Shannon O'Brien: 'Make Or Break Night for Mitt Romney'

Democrat who debated Romney in 2002 says Barack Obama must be on his toes tonight.

Mitt Romney's been down in the polls before, says Shannon O'Brien, the former Massachusetts state treasurer who battled him for governor in 2002. "I've seen him turn things around."

O'Brien is referring to their 2002 debate, which was seen as a springboard for the millionaire businessman. Romney has since sparred in numerous GOP debates, in 2008 and 2012, and has smoothed out some of that stiff Romney from yesteryear, she says in an interview with Patch.

His is a familiar strategy, says O'Brien, who now owns a consulting business in Boston: 

  • Spend a ton of money on TV attack ads.
  • Target "punch lines" in a debate to crystallize said attacks.

Those punch lines she refers to are the supposed "zingers" Romney is reported to have rehearsed over the past month. How many will he fire off? And how well will the sitting president fend them off?

Obama has to be ready to parry or counter any of these attack lines, according to O'Brien. He has to be concise, stick to the issues, and present a vision for the country.

O'Brien recalls Romney, in their critical 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial debate, showed a "lack of empathy," including declining to say something nice about his opponent when asked by the moderator. In one exchange, Romney also chided his opponent for being "unbecoming." Their final debate also included an O'Brien joke that went over flat: "Would you like to see my tattoo?"

It's an opportune time for both candidates. Many Americans are only now starting to pay attention to the race. And O'Brien says people are only now starting to swing to Obama on the economy. Remember that secret taping of Romney, the one in which he remarks about 47 percent of the country? Expect to hear that tonight, too.

O'Brien calls it "the gift that Mitt Romney gave to Barack Obama."

And what about Romney, her old political foe?

"I think it is a make or break night for Mitt Romney," she says. "I think he's got to hit it out of the park."

Follow tonight's presidential debate in a Live Blog on your local Patch. Join the conversation.

Terry Munroe October 16, 2012 at 09:00 PM
You asked what happened to the Live Free or Die spirit here in NH? It's been taken over by the Massholes. They want to turn us into another MA. Full of laws and welfare.
annew October 18, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Terry Munroe, regarding the ad re the man who's wife died of cancer after Bain shut that plant down. She died 6 years after that plant shut down. She had her own insurance through her employer when her husband lost his job. She likely put her husband on her insurance plan at work. That ad was debunked long ago. That man was a liar and fraudster. Wonder how the dems could run that ad. no decency there.
annew October 18, 2012 at 05:08 AM
conor, check wikipedia. the plant stayed open until April on 2009. there were 57 employees left doing assembly work. You are allowed to believe who you wish. You are not adding to the discussion calling names. It does nothing to sway anyone to your argument. Not speaking to Conor, in particular, but everyone on both sides of the political aisle. Bad mouthing and calling names does not work. just makes it worse.
annew October 18, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Maya, you seem to have the memory loss. The budget was going to be balanced, NOT. unemployment was going to be 5.something, NOT. we do have an increase though and that is food stamps! In 3+ years Obama has increased the debt almost twice as much as Bush did in 8 years. He promised those things, and I can understand not getting all the goals accomplished, but he has made everything WORSE...
Terry Munroe October 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM
@annew...Yes, I know that about the ad about Romney and the insurance. It's been a while now and I can't remember if I mentioned it in response to another comment or what. But yes, it was one of the many lies that have been told during the whole campaign. I may have been trying to point out what a lie it was.

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