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.

Comments

Contango

@ the office cat:

FDR raised taxes in 1937 and the economy took a dip.

Kinda sounds like the same stupidty Mr. Obama likes to squawk about.

the office cat

@Contango... FDR decreased spending and then lessened controls on business while only slightly elevating taxes. But economists with much greater minds than mine still argue this today. So, I'll yield to the master.

Contango

@ the office cat:

Kindly find me a "sensible" economist who suggests raising taxes during an economic slowdown?

Does Mr. Obama even have any economic advisors left?

the office cat

I would - 80 of them who are in the thick of corporate management every day - but then I would be disciplined for posting the same information in more than one blog.

Contango

@ OMG.LOL.WT_:

It’s already the 1930s.

The "bread lines" and "soup kitchens" are being hidden byway of billions of dollars worth of Federal entitlement and welfare checks in the mail.

Technically, the U.S. has been in an economic depression since Dec. '07 and Pres. Obama (and Pres. Bush) with the help of Mr. Bernanke have just "papered" it over with debt.

If the street lights work and the mail gets delivered, most citizens are under the illusion that everything is OK.

Increasing debt is like putting frosting on a rotten cake - it only looks good on the outside and only for a time.

☭ FORWARD SOVIET! ☭

the office cat

SWelfare checks in the mail? Really? Thought it all was cards or DD. Hmmmm.
....and the trains run on time?

Contango

@ toc:

So you're OK with 48 million Americans on food stamps?

Pres. Obama buying votes with cash and prizes.

the office cat

I'm distressed that so many Americans have been forced to food stamps (esp. having experienced them myself) and the crash of 2007-08 and loss of 800,000 jobs a month that make it necessary.
I'm distressed that so few wealthy Americans have stepped forth to share in the responsibility of helping those less fortunate.
Ya know, we live very modestly on the income in which we invested in a combined 85 years of active employment, but we still give 10% - before taxes - to charities. Kind of 'rendering unto God'.

Contango

@ the office cat:

The wealthy aren't giving enough to charity and so need to be taxed more so that the govt. can dispense the largess?

10%? Good for you.

mikel

maybe you can ask your boy biden when he's around why he only gave $300 in donations last year!!! what a loser he is.

sanduskysteve

LOL and Bidden paid tax on the rest. It's kind of a play on "money" isn't it? Which one helps us (in general) the best? Those who give millions to their church so they don't have to pay taxes on it? Or those who only give away a little and actually pay tax on the rest of it? I'd say the ones paying the taxes do the most good for all of the country.

Remember, Romney's crap donations to the Mormon church is NEVER taxes at any level once it hits the church's door. And Romney only donates it so he can 1) BRAG and 2) keep it away from the american people that he so despises in that 47% he doesn't care about which are the poor according to him and can take care of themselves. And under Romney - how will they take care of themselves? They won't. Talk about "death panels"?

the office cat

Maybe because like a lot of the rest of us Biden doesn't give money so he can deduct it from his taxes (Mitt's other $2 million will be 'adjusted' after the election). And his $4 million is 10% of his $250 million income - as his church requires? If the church knew how much is off-shore,....
Joe 'claimed' $300 in donations... some of us 'real Christians' believe true charity is given without boast.
I don't claim my church contributions because a tithe is required by the Bible to be 'off the top' ie: before taxes. Taking a deduction on such a gift is like 'taking back' and not making the full tithe.

the office cat

@Mikel. you mean the $300 he claimed?

Darwin's choice

And yet, your hero Joe Biden, with all his millions gave what, Cat??? The "wealthy" you talk about starts in Washington. Good luck getting money from them!

the office cat

so I don't get smacked for double posting, see the above. You and I and Mikel don't know what Joe and Jill gave - only what they claimed. The 'wealthy' starts in Washington? Like all those career Republican legislators who are guaranteed their salaries/pensions for life after 5 years? You gotta be careful where you sling the manure - cuz it's gonna hit a lotta your 'buds'.

kURTje

Ya ......like you know war. Sounds like little teddy nugent in here.

the office cat

Best part of comin' back from the west is cat-ching up with yall. Good to know most of you - and the Moderator - are as right-wing as ever. Keeps us on our pussytoes.

Contango

Oops!

WH emails reveal that Mr. Obama knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within hours, but still went with the video story and still continues to blather about it.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2...

4shizzle

Here is the headline of that article:
" White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails"
Two hours AFTER the attack.
Bush was warned BEFORE the attack.
What's your point?

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

So why the idiotic video story - to this day???

4shizzle

I don't know what you are referring to.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

According to the WH, what caused the "act of terror" in Benghazi???

4shizzle

I don't know.

Maybe their underwear was too tight.

the office cat

OOOPS OOOOOOPS! ABC Oct. 20 -- “Right now, there isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance,” said a U.S. intelligence official.
”The bulk of available information supports the early assessment that the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”
But the official added that “no one is ruling out that some of the attackers may have aspired to attack the U.S. in Benghazi.”

Thus terrorist groups 'opportunistically' claimed responsibility - like that has never happened before.

Contango

@ the office cat:

So when and where has the WH EVER used the term "terrorist attack"?

Seems like they brought some heavy toys to play with for it to be spontaneous.

Either Mr. Obama lied or he's incompetent - which is it?

the office cat

Did you read the Reuters story and followups?

"A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack."

The message reported: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

And.. "This was an open-source, unclassified email about a posting on a Facebook site. I would also note I think that within a few hours, that organization itself claimed that it had not been responsible. Neither should be taken as fact -- that's why there's an investigation under way," he told reporters -Jay Carney in Reuters.

So based on posts on Facebook and Twitter we should send in the planes? Seems the president was... uh... 'presidential'.

Contango

@ the office cat:

So what's the "official" WH story today? Was it still a spontaneous demonstration due to the video?

It's been six weeks.

Either Mr. Obama lied or is incompetent - which is it?

Darwin's choice

No, Cat, the president was lying. Your continued denial of the facts is very "democratic".

sanduskysteve

Hmmm - you guys realize this sounds just like the load of crap from the original 9/11 attack - except it is on the other side that time. The GOP was soooo upset that Bush was accused of lying about WMDs. After 8 years of George Bush, I would be lying if I didn't honestly consider possible not him lying, but him being incompetent. I would also enjoy considering the same ruling when it came to the actual attack in NYC. Afterall - there was tons of intelligence indicating that this attack was planned and actually would take place. But upon orders from higher ups, there was no security and not even an attack plane in the area AFTER the first plane. No one could get someone on the phone (conveniently) to get any kind of decisions made.
So, which is really worse when it comes to not being prepared? Obama or Bush? And Bush's lies continued until after we were already waist deep in a war, THEN he admitted he had bad intelligence. And all of the Republicans wanted us to stop hounding him as he had already admitted he made a mistake. Yep, just like the mistake he made when he was asked later, "What about Bin Ladden" and he replied with he wasn't concerned about him anymore.

Folks, this is YOUR hero I'm talking about. Obama is no where near to his level yet - leave Obama alone.

the office cat

Oh Darwin. The President wasn't lying. You just want to simplify a complex issue involving many different parts.\
Aw shucks. You just wanna call the president a liar. Whatever gets you through the day.

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