How devastating was Mitt Romney’s debate triumph over President Obama Wednesday night? So devastating it seems to have turned Obama into a “short, stocky, slow witted bald man.”

That, of course, is Elaine Benes’ favorite description of George Costanza in the 1990s situation comedy television show Seinfeld. And yesterday, after being embarrassed Wednesday night in front of the 70 million Americans who watched the debate, Obama seemed to channel Costanza at campaign rallies in Denver, Colorado, and Madison, Wisconsin.

“The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called “pioneers” of outsourcing jobs to other countries,” Obama told the crowd in Denver yesterday. “But the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing — he’s never heard of them. … He said that if it’s true, he must need a new accountant. Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney, because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant.” Zing!

Then in Madison, Obama added: “He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street … I mean thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. It’s about time.” His adoring crowd thought it was all hilarious

This all prompted NBC News’ Chuck Todd to tweet, “Watching POTUS here in Denver, reminds me of when I lose an argument and come up w/better responses the next day.” To which political consultant Patrick Hynes responded: “Yeah, well the jerk store called” … a reference to a 1996 episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza thinks of the perfect retort to a coworker’s joke about him hours after the original incident happened.

In the episode’s final scene, George taunts his coworker into making the same joke about his eating habits again, “Hey George,” the coworker says, “the ocean called, they’re running out of shrimp.” To which George replies, “Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you.” But the joke, again, is ultimately on George, as the coworker immediately shoots back, “What’s the difference, you’re their all time best seller!”

Which pretty much sums up the danger Obama faces as he goes into the next two debates. After getting shellacked the first time, Obama will be facing intense pressure to match Romney’s wit and command of facts. But Obama has never, ever, had to debate a competent conservative opponent. He’s just not good at it. Sure, he can give some good scripted speeches off teleprompters, as he did yesterday and at three Democratic Conventions since 2004. But thinking on his feet is not his strong suit. America seems to be learning that this month.

From The Washington Examiner
Byron York: Libya scandal provides big opening for Romney
Susan Ferrechio: Romney moves swiftly to capitalize on debate success
Paul Bedard: GOP closes early voting gap in Ohio, boosting Romney
Phil Klein: Debate was Americans’ first glimpse of Romney the overachiever

Campaign 2012
Obama: Joe Biden told a rally in Iowa yesterday, “You know the phrase they always use? Obama and Biden want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars. Guess what? Yes we do.” And CBS Chicago reports that the President of the South Suburban Branch of the NAACP alleges a director of Obama’s re-election campaign threatened and intimidated him because he doesn’t support the president.
Romney: On Fox News last night, Romney told Sean Hannity his comments about the 47 percent were “completely wrong.” “Well, clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then, you are going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case, I said something that was just completely wrong.”
Voter Registration: Yahoo News reports that Democratic registration is down in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania from 2008 levels.

In Other News
ABC News, Email Shows State Department Rejecting Request of Security Team at US Embassy in Libya: ABC News has obtained an internal State Department email from May 3, 2012, indicating that the State Department denied a request from the security team at the Embassy of Libya to retain a DC-3 airplane in the country to better conduct their duties.
Gallup, U.S. Nongovernment Job Creation Stalls: U.S. nongovernment workers reported worse job creation conditions in September than they have in any month since February.
Bloomberg, California Gas Stations Shut as Oil Refiners Ration Supplies: Gasoline station owners in the Los Angeles area including Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) are beginning to shut pumps as the state’s oil refiners started rationing supplies and spot prices surged to a record.
Bloomberg, Orders to U.S. Factories Plunge on Airplanes, Computers: Orders placed with U.S. factories fell in August by the most in more than three years, signaling that slowdowns in business investment and exports restrained the economic expansion.
Politico, 5 Dem governors miss health benefits plan date: It’s not just Republican-led states that didn’t turn in their homework when the teacher asked for it — a handful of states with Democratic governors didn’t meet HHS’s suggested target for submitting their essential health benefit benchmark plans either.
The Wall Street Journal, Turkey Strikes Syria, Adds War Powers: Turkey attacked targets inside Syria for a second day Thursday and its parliament authorized military offensives into foreign countries, deepening the threat of sustained conflict along the neighbors’ 565-mile common border.

Righty Playbook
The Weekly Standard‘s Jay Cost predicts Obama will have a rough October.
National Review‘s Robert Costa reports that ‘zingers’ were never part of Romney debate strategy or preparation.
Walter Russell Mead notes that Social Security is in the Red, for the second year running.

Lefty Playbook
Rolling State claims to have found Romney’s “five biggest lies” from the first debate.
Think Progress says Romney told “27 myths” in the first debate.
TMZ reports that LeVar Burton is “outraged” over Romney’s attack on government funding for PBS.