GChatting For Freedom: The First Presidential Debate

In an attempt to recreate the fun-filled, adrenaline-packed atmosphere of having a debate-viewing party in your very own home (and/or this post), we have decided to do our debate coverage in the form of a gchat between Senior Editor Rachel and Community Managerette Lemon, who are qualified for this job via their strong feelings about the candidates and marginally competent knowledge of the issues at hand. Due to time constraints, the debates had to be watched after their original airing, but great care was taken to avoid Twitter (although avoidance of Big Bird references was impossible). This will be more fun to read if you’ve watched the debate, but if you haven’t, we’ve embedded it for you!

This debate, the first of three Presidential debates, focused on domestic issues, such as the economy and heatlhcare reform.

are you ready for this jelly



Lemon: Her her her
Not her

Rachel: My glasses are broken and I have no computer charger but I have a giant glass of wine so I’m feeling pretty good.

Lemon: Perfect. I’m three beers in so waking up AGAIN.

Rachel: Also, this wine has turned fyi, but it’s not gonna stop ’em.

Lemon: There you go.

Rachel: Ok! Are you ready? How ready are you?

Lemon: Debates!

Rachel: Do we have any drinking game rules?

Lemon: When Lehrer grunts. When either candidate says “a woman came up to me.”

Rachel: Does Obama say “let me be clear?” I like it when he says “let me be clear.”

Lemon: Haha I am almost positive he does.

Rachel: Ok. Excellent. Also when Romney says either “killing jobs” or “creating jobs.”

Lemon: Both of those happen.

Rachel: Ok, great.

Lemon: Is it cheating to already know these things?

Rachel: Nope! Let’s do this.

Lemon: Alright.

Rachel: Pressing go NOW.

Lemon: And here we go!

Rachel: What is Jim Lehrer from? Like, how is he already a person? Is he just famous for being old?

Lemon: “PBS NewsHour”

Rachel: Oh ok.

Lemon: Which no one watches.

Rachel: I mean, clearly not Mitt Romney.

Lemon: Definitely not Mitt Romney.

Rachel: How are you feeling about Lehrer’s tie? Don’t know that I’m into it personally.

Lemon: It looks like spores. Or just a science experiment in general. Also he looks like a muppet.

Rachel: I like how the rule about no noise really sets the tone of this being essentially a school assembly. Oh wait JOBS. #jobs also YEAH MICHELLE

Lemon: “sweetie”

Rachel: Died
I’m dead
I mean would have preferred he called her “goddess on high” but whatever

Lemon: And now the economy..

Rachel: Side note, is that the constitution on the backdrop?

Lemon: Trying to discern that as well
I see “pursuit of” so yes?

Rachel: So far he seems to be making an effort to be very respectful of Romney

Lemon: And Lehrer
Romney also being very respectful

Rachel: Have we heard “economic patriotism” before? Did Obama just make that up?

Lemon: lol
That joke wasn’t even awkward

Rachel: Oh we have to drink now
because of the woman from Dayton, Ohio.

Lemon: Yup

Rachel: Is Romney answering this question at all? Seems like no.

Lemon: (know that I’m on Gatorade now)

Rachel: (get that Gatorade girl)
Oh wait now he sort of is
Five part plan

Lemon: What was the question now?
I forgot

Rachel: How does “cracking down on China” create jobs? They’re talking about how they’d create jobs. I thought cracking down on China was about global economic concerns.

Lemon: “Champion small business” was his answer. Not right now it’s not (drink)

Rachel: (drink) Obama really pushing this bipartisan thing. So when obama talks about education, is he talking mostly about higher education/job training? Or also about routing more funding to secondary education? This is not clear to me.

Lemon: I think more the former at this moment. (Although in the past he has talked about the latter)

Rachel: Ok. Yeah, Romney’s military spending sounds wack, real talk.

Lemon: And here we go. “Middle income Americans.”

Rachel: Wait, is this a true fact, what he’s saying about not reducing the tax burden for wealthy Americans?
That seems incommensurate with everything else I know about his campaign.

Lemon: Right he doesn’t want to sell it that way.

Rachel: I don’t feel like that’s part of the Ryan budget.

Lemon: But Ryan and Mitt are known to not be consistent on that, right?

Rachel: Yeah. I think in the hour since this debate officially ended there have already been a number of
scathing fact-checking reports on this, also. Which I cannot wait to read.

Lemon: “I like coal.”

Rachel: Jesus, Romney, anyone who’s ever played SimCity knows coal is a terrible choice.

Lemon: hahaha. Cannot reduce the burden to high income Americans, but will to middle income Americans.

Rachel: Obama literally just tweeted this link: OFA.BO/MFE4E1 saying “Romney’s tax claims challenged by nonpartisan report.” So there’s that. Although I mean duh Obama tweeted it, so. I do think Obama’s making a good point re: loopholes. Like, what loopholes? Has any republican ever explained how this would work? Can we take a moment for how perfectly Obama’s tie matches the backdrop? Did an intern do that?

Lemon: Not to my knowledge.
Oh, I’m sure.
Rachel: Interns are America. Romney really protesting the tax break for the wealthy thing. He has at least inspired to me research that more thoroughly. Oh wait now he’s not talking about the wealthy, he’s talking about middle-income families? FLIP-FLOPPER

Lemon: Right but we also have to remember that his definition of middle income is up to $250,000

Rachel: That’s a lot.

Lemon: $200-250 K

Rachel: Isn’t the President’s income capped at like $200,000?

Lemon: It is.

Rachel: Well that’s a fun fact. (Ed. note: The President’s salary was upped from $200K t0 $400K in 2001)

i mean, middle income definitely can’t be higher than $300k. that would be crazy.

Lemon: “Lowered taxes for small business 18 times.” What does that mean?

Rachel: I don’t know? Maybe like 18 different sessions of Congress? I keep thinking about how this debate would seem to someone who has no political literacy, if it’s this confusing to us. It seems like it would be pretty inaccessible!

Lemon: Yes! I think more than other things this debates is just catch words. Poor Lehrer.

Rachel: And sort of like posturing in front of the camera? Real talk, Romney is doing a lot better than I thought he would. Do we drink for “I talked to a guy?”

Lemon: I think that debates are really more for social graces and body language. Yes.

Rachel: Do you remember that viral “omg shoes” video?

Lemon: God yes.

Rachel: I feel like an “omg jobs” supercut would be good.

Lemon: Yes yes!

EDIT: Look what Brianna made!

Rachel: Ok, can I be honest? are we even talking about real money when we say “5 trillion dollars?” That seems to me like imaginary unicorn money.

Lemon: Ha! I think yes and no. The national debt etc is in the trillions.

Rachel: I think when someone says “trillion” i just hear “infinity.”

Lemon: Which are the same thing if trillion exists for eternity.

Rachel: God, I just want someone to come rescue Lehrer. He’s like a Willow that needs a Buffy.

Lemon: How could you even do a “5 trillion $ tax cut”?

Rachel: Also they’ve been going back and forth about the same alleged $5 trillion in tax money for the entire 23 minutes. Let it go, guys. Just breathe.

Rachel: I feel like the deficit thing is going to get really ugly.

Lemon: How is Romney saying it’s a moral issue?

Rachel: Ugh ugh ugh. “taking care of it for future generations.” Because that’s something republicans seem clearly interested in, the next generation
based on their attitude towards education, healthcare, and our generation’s debt problems.

Lemon: Right. Oh boy.

Rachel: “I use [Obamacare] with all respect.” Also, he finally said Big Bird! Oh good. So glad.

Lemon: “When I walked in the oval office.” Obama really likes to remind people that he is Prez.

Rachel: Also, wait, does Romney understand what inflation is? “As much deficit as all prior presidents combined?” Yes, because a trillion dollars was like 75 cents in 1850.

Lemon: Hahaha “All prior presidents.” Good catch.

Rachel: Isn’t the Medicaid fraud that Obama is talking about what Ryan was lying about? Like he said that they burned X amount of money but they had in fact recouped it from Medicare/Medicaid?

Lemon: YES!

Rachel: Good move, Barry.

way to be

Lemon: They pulled out some number like 7 mil.

Rachel: Gross. I think the conversation about revenue/spending cuts is actually helpful to me, I hadn’t thought about it that concretely before. Although I’m not sure I’m really qualified to judge the differences in approach to that

Lemon: Nor am I. What are they talking about right now?

Rachel: Isn’t Simpson-Bowles also a Ryan lie? Like he said that Obama had ignored it but in fact the Democrats had tried to make it work, and Ryan himself had voted against it?

Lemon: Wait I don’t even know what that is

Rachel: Um like a budget plan I think? I may change my mind later. (Ed note: Simpson-Bowles is a proposed plan for spending cuts and tax changes proposed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.) But I feel like what Romney just said about the economy growing more slowly now than it was 4 years ago isn’t true. Also he said “killing jobs,” so

Lemon: Drink. Yeah, I don’t see how it can be true, because the economy was way worse four years ago.

Rachel: Yeah, it wasn’t growing at all, and there are quantifiable signifiers of change now. Also I’m not sure that Romney’s “plan” is workable, where more revenue will magically come in via taxes once more people have jobs. Partially because you need that revenue ahead of time to help create jobs, if you aren’t going to increase the deficit. Also most of these are going to be minimum wage and/or part time jobs, they wont’ make a big difference on taxes. We have to drink again because Obama met a woman in Las Vegas

Lemon: 46 percent. I think his thing is that lower taxes will encourage people to participate in the economy right?

Rachel: I guess? Stimulus?

Lemon: Buy shit and invest

Rachel: But I know that if I had more money right now it would go to paying off all my debt. Which so many of us have, older people too.

Lemon: Exactly which is there because of the stuff that isn’t subsidized

Rachel: I think they’re talking about energy now? I know nothing about this. Ok real talk tho: Romney ships SO MANY JOBS overseas. Just sayin’

Lemon: What?? “We can care for our poor so much better without having the federal gov’t tell us how to care for our poor.”

Rachel: Ugh.

Lemon: Part 3?

Rachel: Yeah.

Next: Social security, healthcare, and “the role of government!”

Lemon: The economy, social security

Rachel: “Do you see a major difference between the two of you on social security?” Um, Ryan wants to privatize it??? One thing about Jim Lehrer is that he makes me confident that literally anyone can be a debate moderator.

Lemon: Were we “overpaying” before

Rachel: Um, I think there was poor accountability as far as insurance payouts. Weirdly, I used to work for a company who made software for health providers and insurance companies to keep track of stuff like this. So I know that at least it’s been a concern for them

Lemon: Crazy

Rachel: Man, Romney talking like Obama is the one who wants to disempower Medicare or social security is some straight bullshit.

Lemon: Yeah listen to this, he’s being very condescending right now

Rachel: Like he’s assuming we can’t even use Wikipedia. Romney, your running mate wanted to END MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT. Yeah Obama! Call him out on it!

Lemon: Romney: “if you’re over 60 go to sleep now”
Obama: “you may wanna listen to this”


Lemon: Yes yes yes. Not everyone can afford private healthcare Romney

Rachel: I feel like maybe he literally doesn’t know that

Lemon: I really don’t think he does. Obama is making sense re: health care

Rachel: Also, factual

Lemon: Yes

Rachel: Ok, so when he says “I support no change”

Lemon: There’s that lie again. 716 billion, that number

Rachel: Does he understand that the healthcare system is broken? Like, “no change” is not a good thing?


Lemon: Still lies

Rachel: I think the GOP is genuinely really disconnected about what people’s concerns are. Like, I guess it might be nice to be able to make specific choices regarding your options for a private health insurance provider. But most of us just want to have ANY HEALTH INSURANCE

Lemon: Right and I think Romney confuses “government telling people what to do” with government being necessary sometimes

Rachel: Right, because a privatized health insurance system with no ceilings would just mean no one except Romney could afford it

Lemon: Public health care is not telling people what to do. Aaaand Mitt has decided to be moderator now

Rachel: I’m gonna be Jim Lehrer for Halloween

Lemon: HA

Rachel: My costume will be holding my hands up in front of my face and stuttering in rage


what’s that now


Rachel: I am highly suspicious of Romney’s idea for “replacing” Dodd-Frank.

Lemon: Yes which he both said he would and wouldn’t do.

Rachel: It just seems like a party that doesn’t believe in regulation wouldn’t be all-stars at designing regulation.

Lemon: Truth.

Rachel: Like I don’t think the Obama administration has been perfect on Wall Street issues, but I think we can agree that repealing Dodd-Frank would be a step backwards. “Does anyone think there was over-regulation of Wall Street?” THREE POINTS FOR OBAMA

Lemon: Four for you, it’s October 3rd, etc

Rachel: Right right
Ok wait I need to get a charger before we start part 4
One sec

Having less wine would have probably been an ok decision

Lemon: lez do it
I’m with you

Rachel: Is there going to be a Jim Lehrer meme after this?

Lemon: Likely

Rachel: Like Jim Lehrer with lines from “Girl Interrupted” or something

Lemon: I am partially responsible for making it a thing

Rachel: LEMON

Lemon: SUPERCUT. I’m all over it. “Expensive things hurt families.”

Rachel: This is why we can’t have nice things. Or any things.

Lemon: Wait first Obamacare killed Medicare, now it killed jobs?

Rachel: Omg also really, not understanding the relationship between access to healthcare and jobs? Or like deciding that one of them isn’t worthwhile?
Really wish Obama had his head in the game more. This is not a particularly fiery response.

Lemon: Not at all. No one is particularly firey tonight

Rachel: I also had to talk in front of people with minimal coffee today, and I get paid a lot less for it than these guys do. Step it up.

Rachel: Oh bringing up Massachusetts, are you Mitt? Fuck you, we hated you

Lemon: Hahaha always
What what what
Is that true? About losing insurance

Rachel: Well, losing it from where? Private insurers? Medicaid? I don’t think private insurers have any grounds to just drop people.

Lemon: Hell no

Rachel: And Obamacare makes more people eligible for Medicaid, not less. And while some people will remain uncovered they should be people who are uncovered now.

Yeah the things Obama is talking about now were big at the corporation where I used to work. Establishing quality of care, etc

Rachel: Is the main difference between Obama and Romney on health care the mandate for coverage?

Lemon: Yes. Romney just really doesn’t get it. He’s still on the private thing

Rachel: My cat has just joined us FYI. She has no time for Romney

ugh, this guy

Lemon: CATTT

Rachel: This is some basic bullshit

Lemon: CAT

Rachel: I feel like Obama actually is refuting most of Romney’s points. So why is it so boring? We’ve lost that loving feeling

Lemon: Yeah and there is just zero moderation now, Lehrer gave up

Rachel: The real tragic hero of this debate is Jim Lehrer. Team Jim.

Lemon: Everybody make up numbers!

Rachel: I feel so lost right now Are they pronouncing it “Bowles-Simpson” and “Simpson-Bowles” as a passive aggressive tactic, like trying to correct the other?

Lemon: Haha who even knows

Rachel: We’re so close Lemon
We can do this

Lemon: Ready

Rachel: “The role of government”
Oh God

Lemon: Philosophy class

Rachel: Obama is halting so much when he speaks, it’s giving me a lot of anxiety. Also this is such an abstract question, any answers to it will be kind of meaningless

Lemon: Yes! Good point. Because now we’re talking about Lincoln and the transcontinental RR

Rachel: Role of government: freedom!
Role of government: chicken nuggets!
Role of government: continuance of PBS!


Rachel: This episode was brought to you by the letter role of government

Lemon: WTF not answering the question

Rachel: To be fair how would you answer this question? “Um, to govern?”


Rachel: PBR

Lemon: hahaha

Rachel: DREAMS


Rachel: These words are literally meaningless

Lemon: HEART
Trickle down government approach
Does not mean anything
Everything has gone to shit

Rachel: I’m going to live my whole life and die right here in front of my laptop while Romney talks

Lemon: There is nothing more

Rachel: How are they going to talk for 15 more minutes? What else is there?
“Poor — or, uh, lower-income, rather” — Romney, everybody!
Oh wait talking about education though

Lemon: Only questions asked ever: do you think you are different than Romney?

Rachel: “Yes, I’m more of an autumn, whereas he is clearly a spring”

Lemon: Who is “they” here? See now we are talking about making secondary education affordable

Rachel: I am pro this idea. I think Obama is trying too hard to be accommodating: “There may not be a focus on the fact that for some folks [borrowing from your parents] may not be an option?” That is some weak game.
Has anyone else noticed that Romney is going to cut virtually nothing and somehow plans to “grow” in almost every area? How is that going to work, exactly?

Lemon: But he is very pro cutting taxes on the middle class right?

Rachel: Right

Lemon: That is his whole plan

Rachel: So we’re somehow going to grow in every area without taking in more money to fund it

Lemon: That is the cure all for him

Rachel: I will be very impressed if that works

Lemon: Let’s not try to find out

Ugh I just want to shake him

Rachel: Lemon have you ever seen Scrooged?

Lemon: I have not

Rachel: Bill Murray plays a Scrooge character, and there’s a moment where he accepts an award for charity. And he says very deadpan, “I love to give. Sometimes I give too much, and it hurts. And then I have to tell myself, stop it.” That is how it sounds when Romney talks

Lemon: Ha that is perfect. “By the way, I killed Bin Laden” – Obama

Rachel: Yeah, he should get a Wile E. Coyote sign of that made. He could hold it up while talking about other issues

Lemon: Or just hold it up and say nothing, which I feel like would be just as successful for him tonight. This whole thing sucks

Rachel: I know, I feel sad and weird

Lemon: LOL yes

ok now just stop

Rachel: The bottle of wine is gone now
Just for those of you playing along from home

Lemon: Haha Gatorade also gone

Rachel: “Fair shot.” “Fair share.” “Same rules.” Maybe Obama is structuring this series of debates like a dramatic sports movie so he can swoop in and take the title much to everyone’s surprise at the end.

Lemon: That’s really all this country wants. Drama.

Rachel: Can I request that my election season follow the same narrative arc as “Major League”? Thank you.

Lemon: So to recap this was: economy, jobs, health care, jobs, economy, jobs, health care, medicare, SS, jobs, economy, role of government, repeat.

Rachel: You forgot the most important part, which was acknowledgement of Michelle Obama. But yes

Lemon: Sweetie, economy, jobs, health care, jobs, economy, jobs, health care, medicare, SS, jobs, economy, role of government, repeat.

Rachel: I feel actually less confident in my understanding of both of their platforms somehow?

Lemon: Yes I feel significantly more befuddled

Rachel: Maybe that’s a good thing? It will force me to do more looking into them?

Lemon: True and so much fact checking

Rachel: I feel disheartened, but at least there’s Biden/Ryan to look forward to on the 11th, which promises to be a shitshow, I think

Lemon: No doubt

Rachel: I can’t wait.

Lemon: Biden who just never (and shouldn’t) speak ever. And Ryan who lies

Rachel: And Ryan who is like an active force for evil on the earth, yeah.
Hoo boy.


We were emotionally spent and unable to go on, but will be back on October 11th for the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. If you’re looking for more on this debate, there have been a number of informative things published in the past 24 hours to help you out. For instance, if you’re interested in fact-checking, this might be a good place to start. Here’s an explanation of what Simpson-Bowles and Dodd-Frank are. And most important of all, here’s the debate in gifs. Until October 11th!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I think that is important to hear what they think their role is going to be. I think that every question that was asked was asked with intention.

    For instance Romney said the purpose of government was to uphold the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and brought in religion and I think that says a lot about his values, beliefs and intentions.

    Hearing what they think the role of government is can give us insight into the candidates.

    • This is all true, but when they just start spitting platitudes it becomes increasingly more meaningless.

  2. very confusing for my little german mind. #alleuropeansaresocialists

    Romney has such ‘rich man hair’.so I like this

  3. This was so enjoyable to read because I feel like these are the exact feelings I was having during it. Except I was shouting them at the TV instead of g-chatting them.

  4. I had several furious Skype and Facebook chat conversations going on with several of my long-distance friends as well.

    I remember writing a Facebook status about how that remark about “people don’t want the federal govt. telling them how to take of themselves” or wtfever Romney said was so insulting, because seriously, have you ever met a poor person? Generally, people don’t find it insulting to get aid they desperately need and don’t give a shit who it’s coming from as long as they get it.

    Seriously, this is something that only rich spoiled jerks who have never met a poor think. Like Mitt Romney.

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson won the night with this tweet: “Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive”

  5. I missed all of this and had no idea that it even happened until I went on Facebook and saw nothing but Big Bird and the Gotye-Lehrer memes.

  6. “Jesus, Romney, anyone who’s ever played SimCity knows coal is a terrible choice.”

    Rachel, when’s the last time I told you that I loved you?

    Cause I do.

  7. OH man. I wish you had live gchatted with me cause I was sitting there by mahself, half infuriated and half confused. Especially by muppet mediator who I wanted to just lay down the damn law, like “do any of you understand the concept of two fucking minutes?” who instead was like “ah now ah wait.”. I also wanted to slow clap every time bullshit poured out of Romney’s mouth, but I would have been slow clapping all night. Which would have hurt. So kudos to getting wasted, the both of you.

  8. “Interns are America” real talk

    watching the debate just made me anxious, so all I did was chain smoke, drink, order pizza, anxiously wait for pizza, drink, and chain smoke and I didn’t even hear what mittsy said about Big Bird and I feel like that was the most important part :(

  9. so, reporters the day after summed it up pretty perfectly as “What happened — something happened. What happened?”

    Plouffe called Romney’s performance “theatrically aggressive,” saying “I think he performed better than people thought because recent history would suggest that he might start off by insulting half the country. I think his policies would have hurt all the country, but at least he didn’t directly insult anybody last night. And I guess by that low bar he succeeded.”

    ugh. but we all knew he might exceed nonexistent expectations. what i really thought were stupid were (a) the blatantly false things Romney said and (b) the utterly pointless things he thought were arguments in his favor, like when he defended his Massachusetts record by saying “We didn’t cut Medicare. Of course, WE DON’T HAVE MEDICARE.” caps added because fml.

    at least Plouffe ended with “We’ve been through this before. You’ve got to run through the tape, and you’ve got to run hard, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve got to go out there and fight for every vote.”


    i wonder what a real time gchat between Michelle and Hillary during the debate would have looked like.

  10. Hey, thanks for embedding my video! I just noticed that. (b/c of the fancy video analytics page)

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