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.



@ 4shizzle:

As a country, the U.S. has the largest GDP and remains the second largest exporter in world. Keep whining.

China is the LEAST of our problems.


@ contango

Who's whining?
I just responded to 2 Cents comment.
Isn't Walmart an American corporation selling Chinese products?
You should take a break from commenting, it's driving you crazy.

the office cat

Then why is Romney making such a hullabaloo about it? One of his 'first day' activities will be to declare China a 'currency manipulator'.


Maybe you or me are missing the point.
Can you tell an American corporation not to sell Chinese products?
Isn't that a violation of freedom?
Isn't that "trickle down government"?

the office cat

Have you ever played China Tag or China Bingo at a large hyphenated super store? Teens play it. The winner is the one who can find something not made in China...


Just remember - Romney's OWN BOBBLE-HEADS are made in China, at a factory run by Ann Romney's brother! Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black??

Also, there are TONS of things sold in Wal-mart which is not made in China - and those same things (in fact, most things in Walmart) are sold at every other big box store in the country. The issue at hand with walmart - really is that they are business smart and can sell at lower prices - most due to their size - not China. The major China product in Walmart is the same China stuff sold in other big box stores. Including most of the food, which is the largest selling product in walmart.


I think the title of this article got it right. The last 2 debates absolutely reversed the roles. Obama has re-asserted himself as the frontrunner, and both he and his supporters are re-energized. By early in the 3rd debate, Romney looked tired and every bit the frustrated longshot. The facial expressions and body language were very telling to anyone who watched; Romney clearly understood early on that he was losing another debate. When you look older than Joe Biden, and you're onstage stuttering away, while a youthful Obama sits cool and in command only 3 feet away, it's not a good thing...

Of course, Romney's real problem is that he also lost the debate on SUBSTANCE. With his lack of experience in Foreign Policy, he brought a knife (ok bayonet) to a gun fight. To Obama, it had to seem like shooting fish in a barrel.

Obama is still up 4-5 points in Ohio, and the last time I checked the CNN projections a few days ago, Obama has a likely 271 electoral votes to Romney's 191 (270 needed to win). Quite simply, Romney needs to win most or all of the 7 swing states to pull off an upset. Don't see that happening.

Not in Ohio, where there are 3 Obama field offices for every Romney office. Not after the Prez won the last 2 debates, with Romney appearing powerless to do much of anything during the final, other than to agree with Obama on numerous occasions. Not while unemployment and gas prices continue to drop, both in Ohio and nationally. Not when Romney ads say unemployment is going up, when everyone knows it's going down. Romney the man and his campaign have less credibility with each passing day. Momentum swing to Obama...


@ coasterfan:

Reads like you watched the third "debate" on the Comedy Channel with subtitles and the sound turned off.

Pres. Obama won the first debate? Seriously?

Better inform the boys and girls at MSNBC. Ol' Chris Matthews had 'something' running down his leg other than a tingle.


I have noticed once again where your reading comprehension skills haved failed you Contago.
This is happening alot lately.
Not one to question your senility my friend but Obamacare covers Romnesia.
Seriously though I have reread coasterfriends comments 5 times and nowhere did he say Obama won the first debate.


"Not in Ohio, where there are 3 Obama field offices for every Romney office"

simple explanation for this. most of romney supporters are simply working so they can support most of prezo's supporters who are not!! thus, they have more free time.

the office cat

Thanks @Mikel. Just got back and it's been so much fun reading you and your distinctively distorted spin on things...

Republicans are sure they've got it. Their great organizing event is taking Obama signs (and leaving all the other Dems signs) from yards - or just vandalizing them. Typical.


Funny because when I left for work this morning there were hAlf as many comments mostly by you right wingers including yourself.
So let me ask you Mikel are you working hard or hardly working (Tired line I know) But really if you are sitting at your computer all day commenting on this websight I would have to say you are hardly working and should be dismissed from any furthur discussion.
Dose your boss know what your up to?


mhl, i guess when you have your own business you can make time to do these things. check your timeline today. only a couple posts prior to 330 area. you should try it sometime. go ahead, jump in. spend your own money and see how it feels. common big guy, don't be afraid. it's ok, i know you don't have the guts and it's always easier on the receiving end.

Randy_Marsh 237 to 206 on CNN
Rut roh! Someone is losing ground?


Nov. 7 should be an interesting day:

Pres. Obama re-elected - stock market swoons

Gov. Romney elected - stock market rises

Remember this.

It's 'still' the economy Obamasheeple. Foreign policy is far down on voters list of importance.



Foreign Policy IS important when one of the candidates wants to increase defense spending so he can start yet another war!


I heard it is not an increase, just putting a stop to the cuts that Obama will allow to take effect

To label it an increase, one has to assume that it is well-advised to allow the cuts Obama will allow in the first place.


@ sanduskysteve:

And Mr. Obama hasn't killed enough people in countries like Libya, Pakistan and Somalia?

So you think that Mr. Romney would kill more innocents without a Nobel Peace prize?


That is sooo stupid it doesn't even deserve an answer.


Nov. 7 should be an interesting day:

Pres. Obama re-elected - stock market rises

Gov. Romney elected - Austerity measures assured-stock market tanks



Obviously "opinions" vary.

We shall see won't we?

Also watch Congress; a re-elected Pres. Obama could be a lame duck from day one.



Yep, jobs and the economy kids!

MIDLAND, Mich. — The Dow Chemical Co. will eliminate about 2,400 jobs and close roughly 20 manufacturing facilities as part of a restructuring plan aimed at coping with slowing economic growth in Europe and elsewhere.

the office cat

Yet not once in the debates did anyone mention the deep effect Europe will have on our markets... like yesterday when Spain affected the NYSE.


@ the office cat:

Yea, that European style socialism is working great ain't it?

Maybe we should try it here? :)

the office cat

Wee've been doin' it here since the conclusion of Ratification of the Philadephia Convention.
Only now we're getting closer to Mussolini's Italy where Corporations and PeopleCorps are buying the country.


@ the office cat:

Our founders wanted to distance themselves from the political and social servitude of Europe.

Il Duce praised FDR for his New Deal.

Nationalization of Fannie, Freddie, AmTrak and GM - Il Duce would be proud!


actually, putty tat, poor economic forecasts for the good ol usa sunk the stocks more than spain. but i know that is hard for you to swallow because prezo has totally eliminated the unemployment field right?

""12:01PM EDT October 23. 2012 - NEW YORK -- Stocks were trading sharply lower Tuesday after a new batch of weak earnings reports from major U.S.
companies reinforced fears that the economy remains fragile. "


1929 all over again, about to become 1937 all over again.



And if Israel and Iran go at it, it'll be 1939 "all over again."

An estimated 60 million dead in the last world war. Think we can top it?

the office cat

OMG.. yep 1937 when things were going well and Repubs had some control and FDR agreed to work with them and the economy dipped again.