President Obama was aggressive throughout the night while Mitt Romney was passive for the first part of the evening. Mr. Romney came alive when the issue of the economy, his strong suit, was brought into the debate. Mr. Obama stuck to his talking points as he attempted to monopolize the time clock.
The expectation for the debate was that Mitt Romney would come out swinging on the consulate attack in Libya. He did not. Early reports of a mob attack were quickly discounted by the intelligence community and the media while the administration continued to insist that it was a spontaneous mob attack. Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations went on the Sunday talk shows calling the attack a mob reaction to a video critical of Islam while the media was reporting that the attack was a well planned military style assault on the United States embassy. Mitt Romney left this on the table, and the moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, never pushed the issue allowing President Obama to escape an embarrassing foreign affairs and public relations fiasco.
Mr. Obama’s strategy was to present himself as a world leader. Mitt Romney’s job was to cast himself as more qualified to fill that same role. President Obama cited a litany of world events that he took credit for while Mr. Romney criticized the president for his Middle East apology tour and his wishy-washy policy on Israel.
In this day and age we like to pick winners and losers. So who won the debate? If before the debate you had decided to vote for President Obama, you still are. If you had decided to vote for Mitt Romney, you are still voting for him. If you were undecided you probably still are.
Mr. Romney did succeed in one major respect. The Obama campaign has been portraying Mitt Romney as someone who could easily get us into another war. Mitt Romney clearly told the American people that he would not. He showed himself to be capable and knowledgeable about world affairs. In this respect the Romney campaign was a winner by looking presidential and disapproving the Obama campaign’s portrayal of him as a warmonger.
Here is what else we learned from the debate. It can safely be said that a Romney presidency would conduct foreign affairs much differently than the Obama administration. Romney would be aggressive on the world stage taking a driver’s seat approach in working on world issues rather than sitting in the back seat and waiting for international consensus and agreement through the United Nations on what to do.
Foreign affairs are important, but this campaign is about the economy; and I believe that this is the issue that will decide the outcome of the election. The debate about foreign affairs could have been a game changer, but it most likely was not. Americans will vote their pocketbooks this year and will choose a president whom they believe will improve the weak economic conditions America faces today. A balanced budget, tax reform, and cooperation across the aisle will be paramount in voter’s minds.
For the next two weeks you will see two very aggressive campaigns. The nation is evenly divided, the next Congress will be similarly divided, and the next president will have no clear mandate to govern, just an election night victory. Each candidate will accuse the other of unspeakable things, half of which will not be true and the other half which will only be partially true. On Election Day the American people must sort through all of this and decide: Do we continue as we have been, or do we change course? November 6th is just around the corner.
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