No, Romney Didn't Use a Cheat Sheet at the Debate

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 5 2012 12:26 PM

No, Romney Didn't Use a Cheat Sheet at Wednesday's Debate

Liberal bloggers and Redditors, still trying to make sense of what they saw on the debate stage in Denver on Wednesday, appear to have found a new explanation for Mitt Romney's surprisingly strong performance: The GOP challenger had what, if you squint really hard, looks kind of like it could be a piece of paper, which could have had notes on it—something that would have been a debate no-no.

The less-than-damning clip in question appears to have been first noticed by Reddit users last night, and later picked up by the Daily Kos and later spread further by the Daily Beast. Here's a closer look:

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The Romney campaign says the article in question was simply a handkerchief. But a Daily Kos blogger isn't exactly buying that explanation. "I'm NOT saying it is crib/cheat notes .. but I am saying it's a possibility," someone known as Clytemnestra wrote last night in a post.

As convincing as that I'm-not-saying-I'm-just-saying argument is, we're going to instead choose to trust U.S. News, which took a closer look at the full tape from Wednesday. "A close analysis of video of the debate supports that [it was a handkerchief]," writes Elizabeth Flock. "At 1:26:35 in the video, Romney picks up the same white object—clearly a handkerchief this time—to wipe his face."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.