The pundit consensus seems to be that Romney won the first presidential debate in terms of style, but according to MSNBC contributor Ezra Klein, he fared poorly when it came to policy.
"Romney managed to sound very specific on issue after issue," said Klein during MSNBC's Thursday night post-debate coverage. But he said the Republican candidate's claims didn't add up.
Take Romney's tax proposals. "He's said from the very beginning, I've got this big tax cut plan, but I'm not going to pay for it, I'm just not going to say how," said Klein. Romney repeated a similar claim throughout the debate, while saying that he could not reveal all of his plan because he had to negotiate some of the provisions with Congress.
"The idea that he's going to go back later and negotiate only the hard parts ... seems kind of unlikely to me," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow added.
On health care, too, Romney avoided revealing all of his plan, instead saying that he had a "lengthy description" available elsewhere. But his actual health care plan, Klein said, is 396 words—"about half the length of a normal op-ed column."
"The debate kind of felt to me like an inversion of what we've seen thus far on the campaign," said Klein. He said that usually Obama comes across as the candidate with specific policy proposals, while Romney is criticized for his vagueness. However, Klein added, Romney did not actually get much more specific during the debate—he was just "able to hide in those pockets of vagueness he created."