1. "I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing." [And tuition increasing along with them, enriching all those college professors and administrators and building ever-fancier dormitories and student centers.]
2. [to a 20-year-old college student] "I'm gonna make sure you get a job." [Later in the debate] "government doesn't create jobs". Which one is it, governor?
3. As pointed out by President Obama in the debate, as governor of Massachusetts Mr. Romney stood in front of a coal plant and said it kills people. Here is the YouTube video.
4. "On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers." Great, the Republican candidate wants to impose protectionist taxes on imports from overseas. That worked just great when Smoot and Hawley tried it in 1930. And if China is manipulating its currency, just what exactly is Ben Bernanke doing to the dollar?
Don't misinterpret this. Governor Romney had some wonderful moments in the debate, too, most of all when he was calling attention to President Obama's failures using specific numbers — the rise in gas prices, the increase in food stamp recipients, the doubling of the federal deficit, using language like, "This is a disappointment....We don't have to settle."
And President Obama, it almost goes without saying, was his usual class warrior, divisive, scapegoating self: "Governor Romney's says he's got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That's been his philosophy in the private sector, that's been his philosophy as governor, that's been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money. That's exactly the philosophy that we've seen in place for the last decade. That's what's been squeezing middle class families."
But if Governor Romney becomes President Romney, these four worst debate moments are some of the things that his allies on the right will have to keep their eyes on.