10/04/2012 05:38 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - President Stuns Nation With Dead-On Dukakis Impression

Mitt Romney won the debate by finding a way to get aggressive with Jim Lehrer without shoving him to the ground for a haircut. If you see Lehrer wrapped in a Snuggie and plowing through some Ben & Jerry's, leave him be, he's catching a lot of flack for his moderating. And an eight-year-old girl penned a letter to Mitt Romney demanding he not take Sesame Street off the air. Maybe she should moderate the next debate? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, October 4th, 2012:

DEMOCRATS: OBAMA DERPED ON SOCIAL SECURITY - Sam Stein: "Of all the moments that left Democrats scratching their collective head following President Barack Obama's debate performance Wednesday night, his comment on Social Security appeared to sting the most...when presented with the opportunity to contrast his vision with that of his opponent, Obama took a pass, going so far as to say he didn't think it was an issue of disagreement...One top Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to criticize the president so soon after the debate, said it was a 'puzzling line' to offer at a hugely watched event. Nancy Altman, a longtime progressive advocate for Social Security, called it a 'fat pitch' that was missed." [HuffPost]

OBAMA CAMPAIGN TO SWITCH TO DEBATE STRATEGY THAT ISN'T TERRIBLE - It's amazing people were put off by the president's performance despite all his uhhhhhs and crowd-pleasing statements like "Let's talk taxes, because I think it's instructive." Sam Stein: "President Barack Obama's top campaign adviser pledged Thursday morning that there would be 'adjustments' in strategy before Obama faces off against Mitt Romney in the second debate. But those adjustments won't be massive, David Axelrod said. Rather, it will be the type of tinkering one would expect from a candidate trying to improve upon his listless, widely panned performance in the first debate Wednesday night. 'It is like the playoffs in sports -- you evaluate after every contest and you make adjustments,' Axelrod said in a conference call with reporters. 'And I'm sure that we will make adjustments. I don't see us adding huge amounts of additional prep time. I think ... there are some strategic judgments that have to be made and we will make them.'" [HuffPost]

The Onion: "Romney Dominated Debate, Say Pundits Trying To Figure Out GOP Candidate's Policies"

SENATE OVERVIEW: 2013 TO BE A GREAT YEAR FOR FANS OF LEGISLATIVE GRIDLOCK - Adam Carlson and Mark Blumenthal provide an update on how the Senate races are shaping up: "With the exception of Connecticut, where a new poll released on Thursday indicates a very close race for the open Senate seat being vacated by independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, Republicans have seen few positive trends in their uphill battle to regain control of the U.S. Senate. Currently, a combination of both returning senators and also candidates leading in 2012 contests would give the Democrats 48 seats, with 51 needed for a majority. One independent candidate likely to caucus with the Democrats continues to lead in polls in Maine. To retain control of the Senate, the Democrats would need to carry just two of eight races now considered toss-ups, a list that has been expanding in recent weeks." [State-by-state breakdown]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST CATCHES DEBATE FEVER - Our Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, whose panic room is actually designed to look like the old, all-black "Crossfire" studio, loves a good debate and was glued to the television last night. "Besides not separating plastic water bottles from trash, one of my favorite things to do is watch MSNBC into the wee hours when Dems are having a rough night," PSLGOPL writes. "It's as if the hosts get loaded up on sodium pentothal and say things they would never say in their tightly scripted hour-long shows. Last night I learned without a shadow of a doubt what the rich white media elite thought about Obama's debate performance. But it felt a touch incomplete, and left me wondering what a rich liberal hispanic journalist might be thinking." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - During Wednesday evening's presidential debate in Denver, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney talked about their big ideas, but, as politicians often do, both men made sure to mention some of the little people they've encountered in their journeys. "I've had the occasion over the last couple of years of meeting people across the country," Romney said near the beginning of the debate. "I was in Dayton, Ohio, and a woman grabbed my arm and she said, 'I've been out of work since May. Can you help me?'" And Romney said that his wife, Ann, had a similar experience on Tuesday. "Ann yesterday was at a rally in Denver and a woman came up to her with a baby in her arms and said, 'Ann, my husband has had four jobs in three years, part-time jobs. He's lost his most recent job and we've now just lost our home. Can you help us?'" Yes, of course the Romneys can help you. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - As mood music for tomorrow morning's unemployment report, here's this week's "meh" new jobless claims news: "In the week ending September 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 367,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 363,000. The 4-week moving average was 375,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised average." [Labor Department]

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LEAST SURPRISING POLLS EVER SAYS ROMNEY WON LAST NIGHT'S DEBATE - Emily Swanson and Ariel Edwards-Levy: "CBS News used the GfK's KnowledgePanel representative Internet panel to interview 523 uncommitted voters who watched the debate (with a reported margin of error of +/- 4 percent)... By a 46 percent to 22 percent margin, the poll's uncommitted voters said they thought Romney won. After the debate, 56 percent said they had a better opinion of Romney, 11 percent had a worse opinion and 32 percent reported their opinion was unchanged... The [CNN] survey found that 67 percent thought Romney won the debate, while only 25 percent said they thought Obama won. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Romney after watching the debate, 18 percent for Obama and 47 percent said neither." [HuffPost]

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During a rally today in Denver, Politician Obama kindly took over for Constitutional Law Professor Who Hasn't Had His Coffee Yet Obama: "When I got on to the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," he told the crowd, "But it couldn't' have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don't need any more teachers in our classroom … Never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, that if it's true he must need a new accountant. We know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant. So you see the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney's decisions and what he's been saying for the last year. And that's because he knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year." [HuffPost's Jon Ward]

Jim Lehrer was not exactly on his A-game last night. Maybe he was distracted by Mitt Romney's aggressively trapezoidal haircut, or maybe Gwen Ifill duct taped a live possum under his desk. We don't know. But here is a mashup of Lehrer's most pushover moments.

Also, Romney definitely lost the kid vote: "Eight-year-old Alabama resident Cecelia Crawford wasn't happy during the debate on Wednesday night when Mitt Romney said he would stop government funding for PBS. On Thursday morning, she was still angry, so she wrote Romney a letter, sent along to The Huffington Post by her mother. 'When I grow up I'm going to get married and I want my kids to watch it so do not cut it off,' Crawford wrote. 'You find something else to cut off!''

NEWLY CONVERTED MODERATE ROMNEY MAKES SURPRISE APPEARANCE AT CPAC - The day after the Republican presidential candidate more or less recast himself as a reasonably minded, card-carrying No Labels member, he made an impromptu appearance at Flat Tax Woodstock. Elise Foley: "Mitt Romney surprised the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday by stopping by unannounced, revving up the crowd to recruit more voters and help him win Colorado...Four of Romney's sons were scheduled to speak at the event. When they came out, Romney's eldest son, Tagg, said his brother Ben was unable to attend because of his medical residency. "We found a fill-in for him and we want to bring him out," Tagg Romney said, followed by his father walking on stage. Romney gave his standard stump speech, beginning and ending with a reference to the presidential debate on Wednesday, which most media outlets say he won." [HuffPost]

As BuzzFeed observes, Mitt Romney's face is an adventure in beige, pink and orange.

MITT ROMNEY AD: I WILL CREATE 12 MILLION JOBS - Given how amped up the Romney campaign is after last night's thrashing, we're surprised it isn't "I will do 10,000 pushups" or "I will subdue and skin an enraged black bear with nothing but my hands and this hunting knife clenched between my teeth." Luke Johnson: "Following his strong debate performance, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney released a new ad Thursday saying he would create 12 million jobs if elected...Romney provides few specifics to back up his claim. And a white paper by his economic advisers shows that it would mean growth of between 200,000 and 300,000 jobs per month, less than the 500,000 Romney has said would occur monthly during a 'normal recovery.' Still, the ad appears to be an attempt by Romney to refocus the election on the issue that he thought would be a slam-dunk for him as a former businessman -- jobs." [HuffPost]

The media consortium that runs the election day exit polls are scaling back the surveys to only 31 states. WaPo: "Dan Merkle, director of elections for ABC News, and a member of the consortium that runs the exit poll, confirmed the shift Wednesday. The aim, he said, 'is to still deliver a quality product in the most important states,' in the face of mounting survey costs. The National Election Pool -- a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press -- has not announced the states that won't be included, but the decision is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country. Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won't be available as they have been since 1992." [WaPo]

GLOBAL FINANCE IS GETTING A LITTLE TOO DUTCH EAST INDIA COMPANY-ISH FOR OUR COMFORT - Can you imagine the types of pick-up lines that these hedge funders are going to be spewing out all over downtown Manhattan after this? Financial Times: "An Argentine naval vessel crewed by more than 200 sailors has been seized in Ghana as part of an attempt by the US hedge fund Elliott Capital Management to collect on bonds on which Buenos Aires defaulted in 2001." [Financial Times]

Maine update: "In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked [Democratic state Senate candidate Colleen] Lachowicz for a 'bizarre double life' in which she's a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, she's 'Santiaga,' an 'orc assassination rogue' with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears." [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A treasure trove of ridiculous GIFs from last night's debate .

WASHINGTON TIMES REPORTER SIDES WITH THE 53 PERCENT - HuffPost DC: "In a particularly lively Twitter exchange Thursday, Luke Rosiak, a projects reporter for The Washington Times, railed against speed cameras and in the process, he made it known that he thinks government employees are 'useless, rude and entitled' and that traffic fines benefit people who 'sit at home on welfare.'" [HuffPost]


- A new trailer for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, which we're tremendously excited about. [http://bit.ly/SzJsvI]

- Earth, you might be familiar with it, has seen quite a bit happen in its day. Here's a two-minute history of the world. Spoiler alert: the sun will eat us. [http://bit.ly/PA8VQY]

- Three whole minutes of animals not knowing what to do with themselves after seeing their reflections. [http://chzb.gr/Wp0bC9]

- Super slow-mo video showing how the tires of drag racers are utterly destroyed during the race. [http://bit.ly/T5p72X]

- Facebook's first advertisement is probably its worst idea since its IPO. [http://bit.ly/UH7XVi]

- A supercut of every "TGS" sketch name mentioned on "30 Rock." [http://bit.ly/PA9dHD]

- Look up "K-9 cool in the encyclopedia and you'll see a picture of this dog in a baby swing wearing sunglasses. [http://bit.ly/SFkKpa]


@samsteinhp: Obama campaign's morning after fact-checking would have worked better if it was Obama doing the fact-checking during the debate

@sesamestreet Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep @ 7! Did I miss anything last night?

@FireMeElmo: Elmo just handed cardboard box to fill. Why two people needed to escort Elmo from building?



5:00 pm: Connie Mack's Senate race against Bill Nelson has been a bit anemic lately -- like President Obama in last night's debate anemic -- so he invites Jeb Bush to an evening reception for some much-needed $$$. [Miami, FL]

5:30 pm: Paul Ryan once again makes fantastic use of his time by traveling to the hotly contested state of Illinois for a big-dollar fundraiser. Members of Chicago's Republican delegation, including Mark Kirk will be on hand. [Chicago, IL]

6:00 pm: George Allen, rebounded somehow from calling someone an ethnic slur in public and once again running in a close Senate race, travels to the most precious place in Northern Virginia, Alexandria, for some antiquing fundraising. [Alexandria, VA]

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