Here are the opinions of conservative columnist and talk show host Jeff Crouere and this site’s publisher and attorney Stephen Sabludowsky:
This debate was the toughest encounter so far in the campaign. Both candidates were aggressive and scored debating points. President Obama had a much better night than the first debate and this will embolden Democrats. The question is how will the undecided vote break in the final few weeks. In a Frank Luntz undecided voter focus group, Romney was the big winner. In CBS and CNN instant polls, Obama came out on top by seven percentage points.
It probably helped Obama that he was given almost four extra minutes to talk. This makes the third debate in a row that the Republican candidates have been shortchanged on time.
In this debate, moderator Candy Crowley used her position to give President Obama extra time and side with him on the issue of the Libyan terror attack. She contradicted Mitt Romney and verified that President Obama mentioned the phrase terror attack in his Rose Garden comments the day after the incident. Yet, Romney's basic point was correct in that it took weeks for the administration to get its story straight on what actually happened.
The Republican Party can only blame them-selves for agreeing to decisions of the Commission on Presidential Debates regarding formats and moderators. Of course with three liberal moderators in a row, the President and Vice President have been given advantages on allotted time and the type of questions.
In this debate, Ms. Crowley performed her duties for CNN and the Obama ticket quite nicely. Once again, the losers are the American people who are interested in fair and balanced journalism.
It is important to break down the debate into style versus content.
On the issue of style, Romney engaged in some of the same “bizarre” over-aggressive tactics for which his team and supporters blasted Joe Biden last week. Surely, Romney was not all teeth and smiling-laughing at strange moments as was the Vice President, but, he was at the bottom of his game by engaging in frequent Biden-like interruptions. Obama was not the epitome of genteel, either. However, the frequency and offensiveness of interruptions by the President was dwarfed by those of his challenges.
President Barack Obama was in his comfort zone. This time, he did not nod approvingly when Romney attacked him like he did during the first debate. Then, Obama seemed to acknowledge and to admit the truth of Romney’s allegations. Perhaps Obama was trying to play rope-a-dope, but if so, he clearly was the dope who failed to tire his challenger. Obama did more harm to himself that night than Romney did.
Last night, Obama moved around and seemed to enjoy the debate sport. Romney, who indeed is a terrific debater, however, became rattled at times. The most obvious event occurred surrounding the Libya consulate attack discussion. While the President made points having the moderator support his statement, Romney’s point was not totally lost as Crowley chimed in that it took two weeks before the administration got its story straight as to whether the attack was terror in nature. Obama might have won the moment, but the question still remains why the administration failed to stick to one story on that issue for so many days. Also, while Obama did refer to terrorism during that statement post attack, he did not clearly and definitely state that the attack had been due to terrorists.
Some points Romney made were simply inconsistent. Romney blasted Obama for fundraising after the terror attacks yet he did not stop campaigning during this period. Also, Romney’s statement post-attack was the epitome of politics. Thus, this particular bash against Obama comes at a risk of a backlash.
Also, on the issue of taxes, Romney said under his plan, “I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now”.
Yet, when he was trying to attract the conservative votes during the primary season, he said in a debate on February 22, “I said today that we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent.”
Ultimately, and in the long-term, neither candidate hit a home run nor struck out. Romney has come across during these debates as a decent, caring and competent man, not the person who loves to fire people. Obama has failed to paint Romney as an out-of-the-mainstream right-wing extremist, which has been Team Obama’s goal for months.
The challenger, however, while picking up more of the moderate backers is failing to portray Obama as an out-of-touch leftist or even a “socialist” as has been the right’s criticism and lavel of the President since day one. As a result of both failures, the two men appear to be mirror images of one another on key issues, such as the automobile bailouts. Romney is now claiming that the administration and he had the same game plan—managed bankruptcy.
Conclusion: Unless Obama begins to pull away after Tuesday night’s debate, Romney is the clear winner by stopping the bleeding and by closing the gap. Right now, election night will be a nail-bitter. Some pundits are not wondering if the election will come down to a tie, or perhaps, a hanging chad.
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