Last night, former Governor Mitt Romney told us he “loves” Big Bird. He also likes green energy and PBS.

But when it comes to his policies, Romney supports none of these things.

His performance was a desperate attempt to pander to potential swing voters. But it lacks the support of nuanced policy proposals.

Going into last night’s debate, President Barack Obama clearly held an advantage over Romney. Romney campaign strategists sought to dramatically lower expectations, as poll numbers slipped in key swing states. Republican candidates for Congressional races tried to distance themselves from the man at the top of the GOP ticket.

After tonight’s debate, those same Republicans may be singing a different tune. In the minutes after the debate, the media declared that Mitt Romney is back in the race and will experience a resurgence in the polls.

But we cannot get lost in hyperbole and rhetoric. We must remember that these words could ultimately translate into policy proposals and affect reality for Americans across the country. We as the viewing public have the responsibility to analyze the candidates’ stances, and demand more from them. We know simply criticizing the President’s policies will not win the support of the public.

Romney cannot say he supports investing in education while simultaneously supporting cuts to the Pell Grant program, which provides federal financial aid for low-income students.

Romney cannot say he supports repealing and replacing Obamacare while failing to put together a comprehensive plan for health care reform. In fact, Romney’s own health care reform plan is merely 382 words on his campaign website, and leaves Americans who have struggled to maintain their health insurance without coverage for their preexisting conditions.

Most importantly, Romney cannot say he believes in the right of the American people to pursue their own happiness while denying them that right when considering gay marriage.

Governor Romney, where is the connection between your style and your substance?

In the midst of the debate, Romney was sometimes able to gain the upper hand on a rather calm and deferential President Obama. But, as Governor Romney sought to detail his plans to restore the American economy, he got caught up in trying to win battles that have already been fought.

Though he tried to move forward, Obama got caught up with Romney in old debates that the American people can no longer bear.

But Obama reminded us that we have opportunity to build on the progress he has made over the past four years. By remaining presidential, Obama was able to withstand Romney’s debate techniques and reminded us to join him in the work that still must be done.

In the next debate, President Obama must channel the passion and emotion that he has shown on the campaign trail, at the Democratic National Convention last month and that we have seen from him on the issues he has championed.

When Obama said he supported improving his education initiative, “Race to the Top,” viewers understood that he meant it. When he pointed out the irony in the similarities between Obamacare and Romneycare, the president demonstrated that his policies have broad support — even from his own opponent.

This debate was unfortunately too focused on the divisive issues of the past to have the room to move “forward” on ensuring the success of everyone.

Nia Holston is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at