Wednesday night Barack Obama joined a distinguished list of sitting presidents who lost the first debate of their re-election campaign.
A CNN poll showed 67 percent of respondents believed Mitt Romney bested the president in their first face-to-face encounter of the 2012 campaign. Only 27 percent said the president won the debate.
The good news for the president is that there are precedents for victory even after such a loss. Ronald Reagan bounced back after a listless performance against Walter Mondale in their first debate in 1984. Polls showed that George W. Bush lost all of the debates in 2000 and 2004 - but still won the Oval Office.
President Obama was definitely off his stride Wednesday night. He seemed defensive - and Romney stayed on the offense all night long.
With a close race like this one, the president will definitely need a Reaganesque bounce-back in the remaining debates. Given his usual oratorical skills, this would appear to be no problem.
But if he lets Romney dominate the remaining debates, he'll join the first President Bush and President Jimmy Carter as chief executives who were done in by their debate performances.
On a side note, it was sad to see how both candidates ran over moderator Jim Lehrer Wednesday night. The president went over his time limit on almost every response and simply ignored Lehrer's requests to honor them. Romney ignored some questions and gave prepared statements despite Lehrer's pleas to answer the question asked.
His performance Wednesday night made it obvious why Lehrer has retired from the "News Hour."
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.