Thursday, October 25, 2012

Third and Final Debate – Romney Perseveres

President Obama stayed aggressive in the third debate on foreign policy and was seen as the winner.  But, Mitt Romney was disciplined, looked presidential, showed subject matter knowledge and avoided gaffs.

Republican pundits were disappointed Romney didn’t attack more on Libya and Iran, but his strategy was to look steady, calm and avoid any comparison to the G.W. Bush team of neo-conservatives.  That was a wise move because the President aggressively attempted to argue Romney was unsteady in his advice, had outdated viewpoints and was prone to advocate military action.

Romney offered his indictment of Obama policies without shouting or talking over Obama or the moderator, Bill Schieffer.  Probably he irritated the President the most by repeating the “apology tour” charge.  And, indeed, Obama reacted to it.  Romney’s best line was “attacking me is not an agenda.”

The economy took up about more than a quarter of the time and produced some of the most heated exchanges.  In fact, arguing over GM was the hot button of the debate, proving that Ohio is the most serious battleground in the campaign.

Romney recognized that foreign policy is a threshold a presidential candidate must cross, but not a driver in the 2012 election.  Also, Romney knew:
  1. The American people want Iran stopped, but not a war.
  2. They are done with Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. They want to be tougher on China’s trade policy without a confrontation or trade war.
  4. They want a strong defense, but won’t pay more for it.
Hence, Romney, whose foreign policy proscriptions are by party and personal philosophy to the right of Obama’s, had to reposition to a more centrist position compared to the primary and general election campaign statements made during the last year.
Needless to say, Obama pointed to the inconsistencies, but the bottom line is that Romney separated himself from the rhetoric that dominated the Republican Party the last couple of years in his final bid to win undecided independent and moderate voters.

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