The Foreign Policy Debate: Won or Lost?

Okay, so the third debate was a victory for Barack Obama. It favors the incumbents because they do it every day anyhow. I’m not making excuses, and I truly think Romney could have won, but he played it safe. It worked and, perhaps, it didn’t. Mostly, though, this was a freaking boring debate.

Here’s the deal. It’s a total farce to have the foreign policy debate be the last one you’ve got. The candidates will ignore that or, as Romney did, tie it into whatever they want to talk about. This was a really bad attempt at masking an economics debate with questions about what’s going on around the world. The candidates talked a good game and sniped at each other quite a bit, but the foreign policy angle didn’t work and both candidates clearly dropped the act.

Now, I said it was a victory for the president. Conservative friends are already lining up to call me an absurd liberal. Well, conservative friends, you should see what the liberals are calling me most of the time! The fact is, the president knew how to counter everything Romney threw at him, whether it was a truth or a lie. Again, debates are not really about facts. It’s all presentation. In that debate, Obama presented himself better.

Romney, much to my chagrin, played it entirely too safe. There were plenty of opportunities to attack and rip Obama to shreds on policies and statements, but he didn’t. He left Libya virtually untouched, which no one would have expected. It is a shame that he did so, because, while I don’t think he lost any momentum (I’ll get to that in a bit), he didn’t help it at all. He could have challenged and won a lot of those scuffles with the president. But he didn’t…

Now, Romney’s momentum. I don’t think it was affected, and there’s a few reasons for that. First of all, this debate came after a lot of early voting had started. There are not really many undecided voters left. The polling has continued to show a trend in Romney’s favor. There are a lot of factors here to take into account and the bottom line in this case is that Obama has slipped up too much to make a comeback with this debate. I am not saying it’s impossible for him to do so (as it stands, I’d still project him winning the electoral vote, though not the popular), but tonight doesn’t make a difference. When they did talk about foreign policy, undecided voters didn’t care or didn’t know what they were talking about. When they attacked each other, they both lost support from undecideds. When they talked on the economy, undecideds were up and down more than a bipolar kid on a rollercoaster.

However, the Obama campaign is in full retreat mode on some of the president’s statements tonight. Particularly sequestration. Watch that one issue in places like Virginia, where the military presence is particularly strong.

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