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Filler: Mitt Romney wins the first debate by being smoother than Barack Obama

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the Presidential Debate at the University of Denver. (Oct. 3, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

What would these guys do to end paralysis is Washington?

Romney says Republicans and Democrats both love America, but we need leadership.

Obama says he'll take ideas from anyone. Super. Problem solved.

Obama says you have to have a plan. well, he has always had a clear plan, which puts him ahead of Romney, but he's already failed to enact it, which costs him points against Romney.

Now it's to the closing statements.

And Obama is still stammering. The closing statement is supposed to be the slam dunk, well-rehearsed, delivered with confidence. One more aside, I'm so tired of hearing about the anonymous strangers these guys meet in some state.

"I'm reminded of the tall dude, in Sheboygan, who said, 'Mr. President, I need a solar power subsidy.'"

Romney seems to have picked up the Obama stammer-flu a bit, and he can't immediately bring to mind a mysterious stranger from the Midwest, but he is ably delivering a mess of promises he'll deliver upon his election.

Romney is going to close with a commitment not to cut defense spending. Does he really think we need to spend as much on defense as the next 27 nations combined?

Yes, yes he does.

So the first debate is over. The best thing you can say about it was that it was substantive and detailed. The worst thing was that it was boring, overly mathematical and didn't settle the main points of contention in the election. Additionally, Lehrer lost control of it, largely because he was asking the candidates to fix the hugest problems the nation faces in 120-second bites.

How, gentlemen? Not what would you do, or to what do you aspire, but how would you do it? Two more debates, too many questions left unanswered. In truth, Romney won, not just by not losing but by being smoother, more confident and more relatable. he was, honestly, presidential.

It does not seem Romney made any points that will change the spirit of the campaign, but he did make a convincing case that he understands what he's talking about and he's confident in his approach to the problems.

And the president didn't make any gaffes, but he was passive, professorial, cold and wonky.

It will be fascinating to see, in the eyes of the electorate and in the polls, just how much this matters.