Supporters of Mitt Romney hoped that his convention nomination speech in Tampa in August would redefine the race, and perhaps catapult him as George H.W. Bush's speech did in New Orleans in 1988 against Michael Dukakis.
Instead, everyone came out of that event talking about Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair.
"Political malpractice," critics charged.
Can we use the same term then to the preparation (or lack thereof) employed by Barack Obama and his campaign team before the single biggest night of the 2012 campaign?
After the single worst performance by a presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan's first debate against Walter Mondale in October of 1984, Mitt Romney and his supporters are walking on sunshine this morning, the former Massachusetts governor having dominated the 90-minute campaign forum over Obama in Denver last night.
That doesn't mean Team Obama can't recover, perhaps in campaign ads as they attack Romney for a number of misstatements made by the GOP nominee during the debate.
But this was a television show, and one candidate was in command, the other looked incredibly unprepared. To quote Yuval Levine from the National Review, "Romney looked like a guy who wants to be elected president tonight, and Barack Obama looked like a guy who wants to be left alone."
The fact of the matter is, Barack Obama's lead in the key battleground states is very tenuous. That outlier NY Times poll from a week ago that showed Obama is up by 9 points in Florida? Yesterday the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that his lead is just 3 in the Sunshine State, a statistical tie.
The next presidential debate is in 12 days. Obviously Mitt Romney was way better prepared for last night. If I'm David Plouffe, I'm putting Obama in rehearsal for two hours a day to get better. If not, he'll lose his bid for re-election.
And fresh off his debate win, Romney comes to the Pier tomorrow afternoon in St. Pete for a campaign rally.
Meanwhile, today the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's case challenging the constitutionality of the controversial nuclear cost recovery plan costing every Floridian in their utility bills goes to the Florida Supreme Court.
Speaking of controversy, the Pinellas County Commission's vote a year ago to remove putting fluoride in the water supply there was one of the biggest kerfuffle's seen there in years. With an election looming next month, two Democratic challengers are using that vote as a reason to dump two of the Republicans who voted that way.