Debate reverses roles

Republican Mitt Romney is acting like a challenger who feels he has enough momentum and time to overtake the president by Election Day, two weeks from now. Judging from Monday's final debate,
Associated Press
Oct 23, 2012


President Barack Obama almost seems to agree.

Obama was clearly the more aggressive combatant in the 90-minute forum, whacking Romney's personal investment record, truthfulness and overseas fundraising. Romney, meantime, went out of his way to blunt his differences with the president on several key foreign policy matters — supposedly the debate's focus — and to appear calm, moderate and non-threatening.

Romney's approach was one typically taken by front-runners: First, do no harm. Don't stir the pot. Keep the clock running.

Obama's forcefulness appeared chiefly aimed at discouraged Democrats who might not bother voting, rather than at the sliver of undecided voters in the handful of states still in play. Romney is not the benign, acceptable alternative he claims to be, Obama seemed to be saying, and I, your president, am finally willing to fight tooth and nail for a second term after sleepwalking through the first debate, which triggered Romney's rise in the polls.

"It's all get-out-the-vote now," said Matt Bennett, a veteran of Democratic campaigns. "If you're undecided now, you ain't voting."

"Obama will win the debate on points," Bennett said, "but it won't matter much."

A number of other Democrats shared that view. Interest in the third and final debate probably suffered, they said, from voter fatigue, competition from televised football and baseball games, and the official topic — foreign policy — in a campaign dominated by jobs and the economy.

These Democrats, however, don't necessarily think Obama will lose. Some feel Romney took a big gamble by being so tame in the final face-to-face encounter.

Obama still holds a slight edge in Ohio in most independent polls. It's the state that can almost seal the president's re-election if he holds it, because it would force Romney to sweep virtually every other contested state, including tough Wisconsin.

Romney's stay-the-course demeanor Monday points to confidence that his slight rise in the polls will continue, even if only a smidgen of voters are truly undecided. Democrats note that many thousands of people are already voting through early balloting programs in key states.

The election's outcome may turn on whether Obama's get-out-the-vote ground troops can outrun Romney's momentum. Polls show Romney doing considerably better among likely voters, as opposed to registered voters. That gives Obama's volunteers a chance to hunt down thousands of "soft supporters," and persuade them to get to a polling place.

From the debate's opening minutes, Romney showed no appetite for verbal fisticuffs. Moderator Bob Schieffer invited the former Massachusetts governor to critique Obama's handling of the fatal attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya, a topic Romney had fumbled in the second debate, six days ago.

Romney showed no interest. Instead, he congratulated the president on the killing of Osama bin Laden, hoping to negate an Obama strong point as quickly as possible.

Throughout the evening, Romney continued a recent trend of moderating his foreign policy positions. He seemed bent on presenting himself as a sound commander in chief, even if it required him to narrow his differences with the president.

Romney offered unusual praise for Obama's war efforts in Afghanistan, declaring the 2010 surge of 33,000 U.S. troops a success and asserting that efforts to train Afghan security forces are on track to enable the U.S. and its allies to put the Afghans fully in charge of security by the end of 2014.

Romney said U.S. forces should complete their withdrawal on that schedule. Previously he has criticized the setting of a specific withdrawal date.

And on Iran, Romney mollified his previous criticism of Obama's sanctions policy. He stressed that resorting to war to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon would be a last option, softening the hawkish tone that had been a hallmark of his campaign.

Longtime GOP strategist Terry Holt defended Romney's soft touch.

"His first goal is to appear presidential," Holt said. "This is not a grand jury where all he has to do is indict. People are looking to him for presidential qualities. Cool, calm and clear."

Obama, by contrast, looked for every chance to criticize Romney on as many topics as possible.

"Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s," Obama said.

He chided Romney for having said Russia was America's greatest geopolitical foe. "The Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama said.

"Presidents always have an advantage when debating foreign policy," said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. "Romney did well enough tonight to maintain his momentum and win this race."

Obama has 14 days to stop that momentum. He plunges in immediately Tuesday with events in Delray Beach, Fla., and Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday and Thursday the president plans to campaign in Iowa, Colorado, California, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, on Tuesday were headed to Nevada and Colorado. Romney planned to campaign Wednesday in Nevada and Iowa, and Thursday and Friday in Ohio.

Neither ticket can afford to write off the other competitive states. But Ohio seems destined to be the testing ground of whether Obama's tiny lead and big ground operation can hold off Romney's October momentum.



Sorry, Cat

the office cat

@Marsh. Truth confirming itself can sometimes make namecallers like you look as uninformed as you otherwise demonstrate:
This is the inside team of Rmoney advisors
•R. Glenn Hubbard: An economic advisor to Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, Hubbard was chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 2001 to 2003, and served as deputy assistant of the Treasury under the first Bush administration. He is currently the Dean of Columbia Business School.
•N. Gregory Mankiw: Another economic advisor to Romney's 2008 campaign, Mankiw was chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 2003 until 2005. He is currently a professor of economics at Harvard.
•Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent: A former economic advisor to Romney, Talent represented Missouri in the U.S. Senate from 2002 to 2007, when he lost to Democrat Claire McCaskill. He also represented the state for eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was chair of the Small Business Committee. He is currently a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
•Former Congressman Vin Weber: The policy chairman for Romney's 2008 bid, Weber is back in the Romney camp after co-chairing fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty's failed 2012 presidential bid. Another Bush veteran, Weber was regional chairman for the plains states during the 2004 Republican presidential campaign. He is currently a managing partner of the Washington consulting firm Clark & Weinstock."

They've been around since Sept 2011...and still setting the policy. Oh... a link?

Read more: http://articles.businessinsider....



Cat As i have said before him and Obama are pretty much the same washington hacks and I ALWAYS Like the third partys better than the two party dictatorship we have going on here. As for Romney hiring Bush's team to run with do you really expect anything else out of washington? You say they are "Inside a bubble" I agree. Now my question, How much do you have in common with Obama which has half the same economic advisers as bush *The FED* and has done nothing more than to favor a different group of millionairs than bush?


Look at that! Colin Powell endorsed President Obama again today! I guess he wasn't too impressed with Romney's performance at the third debate on foreign policy or Romney's plans for the economy.


@ reese:

Gen. Powell? Some surprise. Aren't the majority of blacks projected to be voting for Mr. Obama?


Pres. Obama and Benghazi:

WHAT did he know and WHEN did he know it? The families and all Americans deserve an answer.

Unfortunately the truth isn't "optimal" before the election.

Welcome to the Banana Republic of the United States.

Hugo Chavez, Castro and other megalomaniacs understand these political games well.

Getting re-elected and remaining in power is the only thing that is "optimal."



I don't remember you guys grilling Bush after the 9/11 attacks in NYC. And there was real cause to ask those questions there. When the Dems did ask it -you told them that they were conspiracy theorists. Come on guys - this is stupid arguing about this - it has nothing to do with the economy OR jobs. Which is hwy the republicans are pushing it so bad. Romney wants to distance himself from saying stupid things like "the government doesn't create jobs" then following that with "I will create 12 million jobs my first year". Two statements completely the opposite of each other aren't they?


@ sanduskysteve:

Don't try to go playing the 9.11 "truther" card in the Benghazi attack.

Even Pres. Clinton said that "truthers" were nuts.

The "cover-up" is now the story - not what happened.

It isn't 'convenient' for this Admin. to admit prior to Mr. Obama's potential re-coronation that al-Qaeda is alive and well.

the office cat

The group that took - then rescinded responsibility - is not connected to Al-Q'aeda...
No one ever said AQ is dead, just greatly dimiinished. If you want to give them credit though, consider their 'power', moving from two huge towers, the Pentagon and the White House to a two-week-old non-embassy in rural Libya... alive and well?


@ the office cat:

The terrorists that were responsible are not connected to al-Qaeda?

Do you have a link to the "official" WH report on this?

the office cat

@Contango. "Gen. Powell? Some surprise. Aren't the majority of blacks projected to be voting for Mr. Obama?"
And John Sununu is your hero, yes?
But, no racist shuck and jive here, right?
Not to play the 'race card', butt.....


General Powell is an African-American. He is also a well-respected Republican, and he stated that he will remain a Republican. He cited the President's foreign policy accomplishments, his performance on economic issues,and Romney's vagueness on many issues as the reasons for endorsing President Obama.


You will probably have this comment deleted too!
But you sound loke Jon Sununu CLASS!!!


Gotta appreciate the Soviet-like quality in the title of Pres. Obama's "new and improved" economic and jobs plan for America:

"The New Economic Patriotism"

Comrades! A new era of prosperty is upon us. Trust in our leaders.



Benghazi: "The Inconvenient Truth."

the office cat

Yeah, 'gotta'. New Deal. New Frontier. It's amazing how those ridiculous Democrats seem to come up with 'Great American Hope' quality in their sloganaphry. And what quality is "shuck n jive schtick' and 'the president is a retard' (God, how I hate that word), and Sununu's latest that "Colin Powell only endorsed the President because he's Black". Note @Darwin and @Marsh et al that WE didn't play the race card.


@ the office cat:

So none of the blacks that will cast their vote for Mr. Obama are doin' so based solely on his skin color and enthic origin.

Who's being naive?

Randy_Marsh How is "Shuck and jive" racist? I seriously do not get it. The media brings up a politician who does not have anything to do with the election and her quote that is used by alot of people *Sorry i watched fat albert when i was younger and learned that saying as well* to try to say it was racist? Seriously folks.


@ the office cat:

You, I and others are writing under pseudonyms.

To suggest that one can libel or practice discrimination against the writings of a pseudonym is absurd.

Man or woman up, take your deletions and move on.

the office cat

@Contango. A pseudonym or alias or whatever you choose to call it still represents a person who has a name, home, livelihood, reputation - the same as if using an actual name. Pseudonyms and aliases can be sued, arrested, jailed - or slandered and libeled. That's why some posts are deleted specifically for being 'libelous'.


@ the office cat:

So if I throw something in the mail addressed to "the office cat," it will arrive at your personal address?

In this context, how can a pseudonym sue a pseudonym for libel? Absurd.

the office cat

So. You continually imply - and we infer - that any who favor President Obama are communist (comrades, soviet, etc.) and, despite complaints and phone calls, the Register continues to allow your libel and slander of Obama followers is specific example of how the Register can find itself libel liable. But maybe you are one of the moderators?


@ the office cat:

And the followers of Mr. Romney and other GOPers don't receive similar and even more vicious slights against them from those of your likeminded ilk?

Reads more like you advocate the limiting of expression and the free flow of ideas. Who is the one endorsing authoritarianism?

How is calling a socialist a socialist slander?


So Teabagger,Facist,Racist,bigot,Teabilly,ect, ect are acceptable forms of describing right leaning people but implying the left is socialist/communist is bad when most of them actually consider themselves socialist and or communist is slander? Do i have that right? The freedom of speech really bothers the left, If it isnt for us shut it down? Please, If you are on the net be prepared to take a verbal beating. If not the net is no place for you.


Colin Powell, an avowed Republican, is backing Obama. He cites the evidence that the economy is improving, and says that Romney clearly hasn't done his homework, with regards to foreign policy.

What bothers me is that Romney STILL hasn't given any credible statistics to show how he could possibly cut the deficit. He plans to further cut income/revenue, but plans to renew the Bush tax cuts to the rich, while expanding defense spending by $2 trillion. The math is easy: if you cut income and increase spending, you can't address the deficit.

The above problems are just at the federal level. Individual middle-class Americans will feel the pinch right in their pocketbook because Mitt is on record promising that he will do away with home mortgage tax deductions and college loan deductions on our federal taxes. He also plans to cut funding for college Pell grants. Overnight, these policies will take at least $3000 out of my pocket next year. It'll be the same for all of us, unless you're in Mitt's Lucky 1% Club.

It's not too late to wake up and take Romney at his word, that he will do the abovementioned things he promised to do during the GOP primaries are the real Romney. Regardless of whether you think Obama is the answer, it's quite obvious that Romney is NOT the answer. Romney's economic plan, what little he has divulged, is obviously a carbon copy of George W. Bush's. Regardless of what you think of Obama, does anyone really want to go back to 2007-2008? See kids, THAT is the "change" that Romney will bring.

If you have 2 minutes, check out a video on YouTube: do a search for "The Romney Presidency: A (Plausible) Look Back"


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Oops, sorry, I just wondered.


@ contango

"Don't try to go playing the 9.11 "truther" card in the Benghazi attack. "

So what happened at Benghazi trumps 9.11 ?

Another Repub smoke screen to hide their incompetence.


My purpose in mentioning bush and 9/11, which was completely overlooked and/or ignored by Contango was that he was asking what Obama knew and when he knew it. Well, the same information was asked of Bush after 9/11 - difference is that we found out that Bush people knew about the planned attack months prior and did pretty much nothing other than get out of the way by going to Florida during the attack. He also conveniently arranged for no response while it was happening. It still appears it was a planned response to make sure he could go into Iraq - leaving behind the person who REALLY attacked the USA. Remember, Bush failed at both the Iraq War and getting Bin Ladden. I think Obama has proved from his past performance (even though this has been attempted to be brushed under the carpet) that when he finds out who did this Lybia attack, they will pay for it.


@ sanduskysteve:

So Pres. Clinton was wrong in his assesment of truthers?

The Benghazi "cover-up" IS the story.

So did FDR have prior knowledge of planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?


Not a cover-up. I don't think anyone knows exactly what happened yet. Especially the republicans making it into a story.


If this story was dropped right now, Do you believe you would ever get a straight answer about it? Unless the media is focused on it and it cannot add to or take away from a political stance nothing would ever get done.