Presidential Debate #3: Mitt Vs. Obama on Foreign Policy

by John Hawkins | October 23, 2012 1:39 am

Last night’s debate had the same format as debate one, except it was on foreign policy. The moderator was Bob Schieffer and I have to admit that I wasn’t very hopeful about him calling it right down the middle.

This is the final debate: Obama and Schieffer vs. Romney. #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[2]

Yet, post debate, I do have to admit that I think Schieffer generally did a good job (More on his biggest mistake a little later).

The first half of the debate was tedious. There were a few good lines….

“Attacking me is not an agenda.” — Mitt Romney #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[3]

“I’m…not going to say to (Putin) I’ll give him more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone.” – Mitt

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[4]

…but neither Romney nor Obama seemed particularly confident or in command on the subject. For the most part, both stumbled around, launching ineffective attacks while sticking to their talking points.

Debate so far: Foreign policy is hard. #debate[5]

— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) October 23, 2012[6]

Their demeanors were very different though. Romney was doing everything he could to seem reasonable, agreeable, and presidential. In other words, it was a full court press to try to capture moderates.

Sorry, Democrats. Romnius Prime always transforms into Most Electable Mode this close to Election Day.

— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) October 23, 2012[7]

On the other hand, Obama was much more aggressive and at times, was actually nasty and condescending. That’s the sort of thing that tends to impress his base, but doesn’t necessarily draw in independents.

Eventually, Obama kept insisting on talking about domestic issues, even though he had nothing interesting to say about the topic. He was like a wind up toy stuck in a loop and Romney responded by matching him. Soon, we were hearing Obama droning on about education while Romney was repeating his 5 point plan. It was so bad, you just wanted to throw something at the screen while you desperately hoped that the moderator would step in and turn them back to foreign policy.

Ummm, foreign policy moderator, they’re not talking about foreign policy. Might be a good time to steer them back to the subject #debate[5]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[8]

Eventually Schieffer got them going back in the right direction and that was when Mitt started to take over the debate. He consistently scored on Obama again…

“By the way, you skipped Israel…by the way, they noticed you skipped Israel.” — Mitt Romney #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[9]

and again…

“You said..America has dictated to other nations. America hasn’t dictated to other nations, America has freed other nations from dictators”

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[10]

and again…

“I don’t see our influence growing around the world, I see our influence receding around the world.” — Mitt Romney #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[11]

and again…

“Is Iran closer to the bomb? Yes. Is the Middle-East in tumult? Yes. Is Al-Qaeda on its heels? No…” — Mitt Romney #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[12]

and again…

“I couldn’t agree more about going forward, but I don’t want to go back to the policies of the last four years.” — Mitt Romney #debates[1]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) October 23, 2012[13]

Mitt just had an extra gear that Obama didn’t have over the last half of the debate and it showed because he was clearly the better man over the last 45 minutes.

In summary, although Romney didn’t turn in a perfect performance, he won the debate, avoided gaffes, appeared presidential and did an excellent job of reaching out to moderates. Barring a complete Obama collapse of the sort we saw in the first debate, he couldn’t have reasonably hoped to have done much better than he did last night.

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