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

@Contango. "pay legislation"?
Pseudonyms and noms-de-plum and the like are an old tradition - not unlike "poor Richard's Almanac". So is 'alias' and 'aka'. You and I can call ourselves anything we choose - as long as it's not an effort to engage in illegal acts or commit fraud or threaten violence or physical harm behind a veil of anonymity.
No... don't subscribe.

Contango

@ the office cat:

"Loser pays" legislation. Helps to prevent frivolous lawsuits.

I subscribe to the NR. Liberals like "free" while using OPM.

the office cat

@ there already are 'loser pays' laws in Ohio... any judge may declare a lawsuit frivolous. Perhaps that's why the action is in its infancy...?

Contango

Too funny.

Pres. Obama says that he wants wind turbines to be manufactured in China:

http://nation.foxnews.com/presid...

Guess the guy's tired from campaigning too long and hard to save his job.

Good thing that Mr. Romney didn't say this; imagine the uproar from the lefties?

the office cat

Con. Fox NATION, not Nation, not Fox News. And he immediately corrected the statement.. "I DON'T want them manufactured in China, I want them....in America." But, just like Faux, you only repeat part of it with an intent to inflame. Isn't that against the 'rules' here?

shucks

@ office cat

The GOP HATED Obama before he was even inaugurated.

The GOP aren't fair and balanced.

They are a very hate filled and unreasonable organization.

sanduskysteve

Just thought I'd mention Delphi again since this is a key point in Ohio and Romney was the cause - thru his "get rich no matter who it effects" way of thinking. You guys just don't see this if you are a republican because you are so bent on getting O out of office even if it means putting in R&R who will actually eliminate every single one of you from jobs, voice, and savings, retirement, and medicare. Blind people following the money trail - best way to become part of the very poor begging on the street for food.

Paste from National Memo:
"As Greg Palast reported in The Nation, Romney and his wife made millions off an auto parts company called Delphi after it was bought for pennies on the dollar by Romney’s partner (and one of his primary campaign donors) Paul Singer. Singer and his partners took billions in federal bailout dollars in exchange for continuing to supply auto parts to General Motors and Chrysler. They kept the money, stiffed the company’s pensioners, and moved 25 of Delphi’s 29 plants to China."

the office cat

@Sandusky Steve. Seems the Delphi management former employees who blame Obama for loss of their pensions just don't know or don't want to acknowledge the Romney/Bain role hmmmmm?

eriemom

@Steve: They aren't paying any attention. Have you found anything on this other than on "The Nation"? I will have a bit of time on Sunday to research. Let me know if you find anything.

shucks

@ randy marsh

Sorry your highness, but you believe in lies and chase red herrings.
And if Romney gets in, it'll be more Bush incompetency.

Randy_Marsh

4shizzle
Seriously?? Thats the best facts you have? You make a powerful argument "Your wrong, Nyaa, nyaa,nyaa" But i am unconvinced at your facts got anything else like a rebuttal that extends past the 5th grade level? Maybe a "I know you are but what am I?" or a "Your mom smells of cankle grease"? Anything man, Just anything?

shucks

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

Randy_Marsh

4shizzle
??? Thats it? No facts No links No 3rd grade insults? Im shocked!!! Come on throw out a "Your a racist" for old times sake. You guys crack me up.

shucks

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

Randy_Marsh

4shizzle
Thats more like it. Making me feel younger by the minute. And yes my mom does know i am on a computer, I just had to send her some links i found for a awesome recipe. Can you send a link yet or is that still on the agenda to learn? (Maybe there is not any links supporting your arguments???) Just spitballin here.

shucks

Buy a dog.

Randy_Marsh

Im afraid Obama supporters will need lunch so i do not want to get attached, I know how you guys look up to him and want to emulate him.

shucks

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

Randy_Marsh

4shizzle
Truth always has a way to confirm itself. A link would do fine. So far though you have yet to back up any statement with evidence pointing to it as fact. Yes i do agree i am wasting time, There is no way to make you learn anything other than what you are programmed to do or say by your belief in the messiah and MSNBC. Thats what makes it fun. In the end you will vote for who they tell you to and hold up your end of the bargain as voter stock for democrats.

shucks

See above.

Randy_Marsh

Moo? Mooo moo moo mooooo? Y U No play No More?

MHL

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

Randy_Marsh

MHL
HA! I cannot have a little fun on my days off? Good lord, Trying to boss people around on the net.

shucks

@ marsh
Actually, I used to watch to Fox News.
I started watching them as they covered the 911 tragedy and for months afterward.
I didn't know it was a Republican storefront.
Fox News started saying things that just didn't sound right.
For example, Fox was vehemently bashing Bill Clinton -- he was OUT of office.
I thought, What?
Then I discovered the Democratic stations and they came across more real and level headed.

Every story sounds true...until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.

You should pull your head out of the ground and look around,unless of course this blogging is just "fun" and you get a kick out of insulting people which is characteristic of Faux News.

Randy_Marsh

4shizzle
Personally Fox is just as guilty as creating the divide in the American citizens as MSNBC or CNN. I dont like any of them as they all are owned by larger corperations with a agenda that does not benifit the US citizens. It is "Fun" and insulting people is where most of the left gets its news. Jon Ste wart or Col bert show, Ringing any bells? I like Bloomberg, RT, Aljezeera or the BBC for news. They do not have a agenda unlike your news sources, Why do I get on MSNBC? It riles you leftys up. To me thats fun and you expecting to change anyones vote or opinion by calling them names or saying "You lie" is funny. The facts are though how many times have i linked Fox news to you? I link huf fington more than Fox. I dare you to try to find a Fox link from me because i refuse to watch it as i do with the rest of the bought out media. On my time off its great that i can have fun repudiating your MSM rhetoric.

shucks

@ marsh

Vote Romney !!!

(I hope your mother doesn't need a Social Security check or Medicare.)

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

SS or "Mediscare"? It doesn't matter if "Obamney" is elected.

The Fed debt ceiling will soon need to be raised once again.

Don't you remember last yr. When Pres. Obama scared seniors by tellin' them that their SS checks might not go out?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

Pres. Obama - Fear, Greed and Power.

the office cat

Con... sometimes the truth is scary. If the Congress hadn't acted, the gfovernment would have shut down BEFORE SS checks were mailed. It wasn't a threat...more of a warning.

Contango

@ the office cat:

So if the debt ceiling isn't raised we'll go through it again yes?

the office cat

4shizzle: Aw. And you were doing so well with Obama-speak.

Pages