And That’s a Wrap (On Debate Season)

Last debate until the 2016 primary season (2015)….Final thoughts:

  • Obama had the upper hand being the incumbent. 90% of his job is foreign policy, so he knows it inside and out. That isn’t to say a Governor cannot be strong on foreign policy (Clinton, Bush, Reagan), but the advantage of being the incumbent is huge in this case.
  • Romney won on substance. He laid out specifics, he challenged President Obama on his failures in foreign policy, and he showed gravitas when it mattered. In the end, the incumbent looked more like the challenger and the challenger like the incumbent.
  • Romney worked hard (and maybe a tiny bit successfully) to shed the hawkish image of the GOP. War is the last resort, you don’t win by killing people, etc. At the least, he placated independents worried about a warmonger.
  • Please, do not let bayonets become the new Big Bird or binders. Please, we can’t take much more.

Who won?

  • Draw. Romney won on substance, Obama won on everything else. The polls were not definitive, if anything, they showed Obama “won” on the surface but Romney won underneath. Like the second debate, it won’t be enough to give Obama a boost heading into the final two weeks.
  • Romney looked the part of president, which is what this was about. A tie is all he needed to actually win.
  • PPP had it best – Obama won; but, he lost. Independents are more likely to vote for Romney after the debate, and less likely Obama. In other words, he did nothing to stop the shedding of the independents that will doom him. CNN put it another way: 24% more likely to vote for Obama, 25% Romney, 50% neither. It’s too late in the game.

Best quotes:

  • Obama: “When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel would be unbreakable.”
  • Obama: “Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat because a few months ago when you asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia – not Al Qaeda – you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling and asking for their foreign policy back.”
  • Obama: “Governor, you say you want a bigger military. You want a bigger Navy. You don’t want to cut defense spending. What I want to ask you — we were talking about financial problems in this country. Where are you going to get the money?”
  • Romney: “I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in Al Qaeda, but we can’t kill our way out of this mess.”
  • Romney: “Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East, and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel.”
  • “I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin and I’m certainly not going to say to him, ‘I’ll give you more flexibility after the election.’ After the election, he’ll get more backbone.”
  • Romney: “This is a critical opportunity for America. And what I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, ‘Well we’ll let the U.N. deal with it.’”

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