Romney finished with a much stronger closing statement than the president in the final debate.
Moderator Bob Schieffer has never been a firecracker, and that was a blessing during the final presidential debate in Boca Raton (Fla.) on Monday, after the fiasco Candy Crowley conducted during the second debate.
The final debate frequently—sometimes dully—moved from foreign policy to the domestic economy. Both candidates see the need for a strong economy as a linchpin for foreign policy.
Republicans and Democrats are claiming their candidate won. What we should ask ourselves is who actually came off as more presidential.
Schieffer didn’t intrude as much as Candy Crowley did in the second debate; nor did he directly intervene to save the president’s skin on the controversial issue of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
However, in the final debate, just as in the other two, President Barack Obama took more time than Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney. The “Fair Share” president ended up with a cumulative total over three debates of 8:8 more minutes/seconds than Romney. That’s a lot of time.
Fact checks have been posted at numerous sites, but some claims are worth noting.
Auto bailouts and defense
Romney managed to correct a Democrat talking premise that is faulty—that he would have thrown the auto industry into the abyss. That of course is not true, evidenced by Romney’s opinion piece in The New York Times. Romney’s plan would not only have protected pensions for nonunion workers at Delphi but would also have protected the U.S. taxpayer. Romney’s plan would have been the better course to follow.
Obama also erred on the use of bayonets; Twitter lit up with messaging from those who had served in the U.S. Marines about that matter.
Obama has seesawed on terrorism throughout his campaign. First the Benghazi attack wasn’t terrorism—it was a film—then it was. For months, Obama oversold the death of Osama bin Laden and gave audiences the impression al Qaeda is on the run.
Fact is, according to many experts, al Qaeda is regrouping. In my opinion, bin Laden should have been brought out alive if possible simply because of the potential for intel.
The candidates’ behavior, Russia and threats
There was a bizarre aspect to the debate. Obama glared at Romney throughout much of it in a manner that suggested staging. That, I think, didn’t go over well on Main Street.
Obama also bordered on snarky at times, harped on the tax hikes he lusts after, even in his closing statement, and ended with a lackluster close.
Romney had some very strong moments; some pundit on Twitter dubbed the governor the “happy warrior.” He corrected the record on his comments about Russia as a geopolitical foe—Democrats took comments out of context on that matter. Romney said:
It's a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same -- in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I'm certainly not going to say to him, I'll give you more flexibility after the election.
Asked to cite the greatest threat to the U.S., Obama said that would be “terrorist networks.”
Romney was more specific, saying, “[T]he greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security threat is a nuclear Iran.”
Few would disagree with that.
Policies of the last four years
Just before the closing statements, Romney landed a left hook:
The policies of the last four years have seen incomes in America decline every year for middle income families, now down $4,300 during your term. Twenty-three million Americans still struggling to find a good job. When you came to office 32 million people on food stamps. Today, 47 million people on food stamps.When you came to office, just over $10 trillion in debt, now $16 trillion in debt. It hasn't worked. You said by now we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We're 9 million jobs short of that.
It was in the closing, however, that Romney had his finest moment. Speaking directly to the American people, Romney sounded and looked like a statesman. He had never descended to personal attacks the president had launched throughout the evening. As Romney spoke, his enthusiasm and energy were evident. He delivered second blows to Obama on the decline in median income for families, the unemployment rate, the debt and working with the opposition party which is something Obama has repeatedly refused to do.
In all, the needle won’t move significantly for either candidate, but I believe the debate was an advantage for Romney more than for Obama.
After all, down here on Main St., we know what’s in our wallet and we know who wants to kill us.
Romney made it clear to Americans in all three debates he is eminently qualified to be president. That was the job he needed to do and he did it well. Romney is my candidate and I liked how he handled himself in Boca Raton.
Put bluntly, Romney was more presidential.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 23, 2012)
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