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

the office cat

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS. Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today (9/11/12) and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET: CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls.

CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility."

So, there was warning of a demonstration and following US policy, embassy personnel were removed. Should we assume personnel in Bengazi were less diligent at following US policy? Or perhaps there was no prior warning but terrorists chose to use the Cairo events as an 'excuse' to gather and attack?
Somehow, I don't think even a President Romney would micromanage actions at all the US embassies around the world....oh, but there is that magic underwear thing.

Contango

@ the office cat:

It was Sept. 11th and security at our diplomatic missions wasn't beefed up???

Islamists are into symbolism.

Heck, bin Laden thought that our entire economic system would collapse with the falling of the twin towers.

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

the office cat

Where does it say security wasn't 'beefed up'? In fact Reuters reported the Ambassador and others were in safe room in interior and Marines were doing their jobs destroying documents. But the attackers sprayed the compound bldings with some kind of fuel fire and the Ambassador suffocated from the smoke.
Why don't you give us your real name so we can write you in for president? Obviously you'd be sooooooooo good at 'first-guessing' things.

Contango

@ the office cat:

Wasn't one story that the Repubs were to blame because they cut spending for diplomatic security and now you want to tell me that it was 'adequate'?

Why don't you give me your real name as a spokesperson for the WH?

So what's the "official" WH house story today; video, spontaneous demonstration, "act of terror"?

Randy_Marsh

So repeated attempts at getting better security being turned down by the state dept who paid a british firm to hire locals and 2 seals is "Beefed up"? http://www.reuters.com/article/2... Gimmie a break, How many marines were there? Give you a good idea if you read somthing http://www.washingtontimes.com/n...

the office cat

...and George Bush knew right after he took office that bin Laden was just awaiting an opportunity to attack.
...and nobody questioned why jet-pilots in training didn't want to bother to learn about landing jets.
...and nobody paid attention to the Canadian border when the terrorists were coming in - but we needed to do something about those dark-skinned folks crossing the Rio Grande.

Contango

@ the office cat:

So is your argument that both Presidents Obama and Bush were incompetent?

Mr. D

Tango, you need to read the whole article, not just the headline. Especially the part about information being sparse and was beong analyzed as it became available. Nothing here, only your teatard jibberish!

the office cat

"The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood -- was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." -- Brigham Young

Randy_Marsh

Not to get all conspiracy theory on everyone but there is no embassy in Bengahzi, http://www.usembassy.gov/ Notice Benghazi is not on the list. There was only a newly opened consul. http://libya.usembassy.gov/en_08... Opened in aug 26 2012 in a highly adverse area. The Consul was in operation for all of 2 weeks with everyone one involved screaming they needed higher security for that area. Weird huh?

the office cat

sooo... why was he called an 'ambassador'?

Randy_Marsh

He was the ambassador but was not in Tripoli where the actual embassy was. Weird huh?

the office cat

and yet, if you bother to read, everything was done accoring to Congressional policy. The Ambassador was in the saferoom deep in the compound but died of smoke inhalation when the terrorists sprayed the building with fuelfire of some sort, setting it on fire.

But, if I hadn't already voted, I'd be writing in Contango/Marsh for P/VP cuz you are so wonderful at determining foreign policy and domestic financial policy and knowing all about woulda coulda shoulda...

Contango

@ the office cat:

That still doesn't answer the question of whether it was a planned or a spontaneous attack.

Why the cover-up?

Write us in? Nah, you still woulda voted for "He-who-should-never-be- questioned."

the office cat

It does answer the question. You just don't wanna 'get it'. What if it was 'planned' as far as weapons, logistics, maneuvers, etc. BUT to put into place when events made it most possible?
Ya know... events in Cairo and Tripoli were a great distraction to give a window of opportunity. Everythiing was in place to GO.
Not sayin' that's what happened but... In our own history Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation weeks before he made it because he wanted a Union victory to make it more enforceable.
We didn't just suddenly load the atomic bomb on a plane and head for Japan. It was planned and developed for months - even loaded - but awaited the right time.
Ike planned an invasion into France but the date kept changing. Then in horrendous weather, he set it in motion because Intelligence determined the tanks were somewhere else and Germany was unprepared.
I think they call that 'strike while the iron is hot'?
Ya know... like when you got all your money sittin' there ready to invest when prices drop or the opportunity is best and 'hit' the button on your computer and get even more riches about which you can brag here.

Contango

@ the office cat:

So after six weeks, what is the "official" WH position?

I went to whitehouse.gov and state.gov - nothing new from over one month ago.

Gotta think that Mr. Obama is trying to lay low until after the election.

4shizzle

.

the office cat

Can't wait to see what the tea party moderator dumps next.
She probabaly hasn't even noticed Sandusky County is tagged as one of the 100 key counties nationwide in the Obama campaign strategy.

Contango

@ the office cat:

I wouldn't worry about Sandusky and Erie Co. votin' and goin' Socialist this yr.

Mr. Obama and the Progs have adequately bought 'em with cash and prizes.

The Big Dog's back

Poor, poor winnie.

Contango

@ brutus:

So after six weeks, what's the "official" WH story on Benghazi today?

The Big Dog's 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) and Libel and defamation.

Randy_Marsh

When all else fails, Blame bush. How about you quit covering for Obama who is doing the same things you claim Bush has done? Oh i forgot Bush is white and we all know how much you hate them.

MHL

It sounds to me like the anti-Obama crowd favors Al Queda over Obama .
Sad

Randy_Marsh

So questioning a president who, 1 Either doesnt know anything about what happened because the slots were hot in Vagas or 2 Knows what happend but likes to make up storys to cover his admin from a obvious failure is wrong in your eyes? Go back to watching your daily dose of MSNBC propaganda and being election fodder for the dems.

4shizzle

Continue to suck up on the Fox News lies and red herrings.

Randy_Marsh

Please link me facts according to the president other than "A bunch of kids who didnt like a movie who blew up a embassy filled with Marines that we sent to protect them" when everyone with a brain can see thats NOT what happened. You wonder why people call the Dems sheep.
You lie, Fox news,Red herring,Blaming Bush or any other dumb remark is not a fact and cannot be accepted.

the office cat

The Marines are not there to protect the embassy or its employees. The Marines are assigned to destroy sensitive documents. But, what do you care?
The US was supposed to go out and kill random Libyans because some radical group posted responsibility on FB and Twitter? And then later the REAL group denied it? When did YOU retire from the Marines on foreign duty?

Randy_Marsh

Cat
There were no marines there. Read my post again they had 20 local employees from a british security agency and 2 Seals.

the office cat

Already that a day ago... but maybe Sarah removed it because it smacked of truth. It was all about the Cairo and Tripoli embassies. And there IS that $1 million bounty by the Taliban on the head of the Egyptian Coptic Christian (!) who made the film.

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