Obama vs. Romney Presidential Debate Winner: Neither, Candidates Play it Safe
On Monday, President Obama and Mitt Romney battle in their third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, on the topic of foreign policy.
Coming down with a case of campaign fatigue? Have you developed an urge to scream or slap someone in the face whenever you hear the phrase "in the polls today?" You're not apathetic, no, but you just, well, want some results already?
Then join me, live-blog style, on Monday night at 9:00 pm to celebrate the final presidential debate!
The debate will focus primarily on foreign policy and international relations, and I will focus primarily on getting us all through the squabbling, the interrupting, and the oh-no-she-didn't moments (please Bob Shieffer, pull a Candy and fact check Romney) in one piece.
I will also try to add incisive insight and deep reflection, but only if the candidates talk about something other than (SPOILER ALERT) Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and Bin Laden being straight up dead ya'll.
So pop some popcorn and grab some buds, because Monday night marks the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning, if your glass is half full - or maybe if it's half empty?) of this proverbial horse race. Join me, Mittens, and Barack for a sincere and factually correct good time. That is, unless you are from Arizaon, Colarado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Wisconsin, in which case you need to turn off your TV and computer immediately and go to a quiet place to ponder your vote.
PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates and oh so much more to help revive your election zeal, bookmark and refresh this page.
UPDATE: 8:30 PM Half an hour till tee time! For those of you who aren't feeling the pep talk from Mike McCurry, the illustrious co-chairman of the Commission on Presidental Debates, on CSPAN right now (Rules for the audience: "No yelling, no cheering, no harrumphing, no gasping"), get warmed up with Romney and Obama's talks from the Al Smith fundraising dinner last Thursday.
8:47 The president of Lynn University and possible Brooks Brothers catalogue model just made a joke about the pronunciation of Boca Raton. Strong start.
9:00 Bob just outlined the rules: six segments, two minutes for each candidate to respond, followed by a brief discussion. The first segment will have two subject topics, the first of which is about Libya.
Keep up, people.
Also, Mitt just made a joke about being unintentionally funny. Silly Mitt.
9:08 Mitt is touting his aim to build civil society in the Middle East, opposed to Obama's strategy of killing the guys at the top. Obama reminds him that a few months ago, he called Russia our biggest geopolitical threat: "I'm glad you recognize Al Queda as a threat... We need strong leadership, not reckless leadership."
Romney: "Attacking me is not an agenda, but I'll respond to a couple of things you said."
Slow your roll gentlemen, slow your roll.
9:16 Obama says ultimately Syria has to decide their own future, but we have to do the most we can to assist the Syrian people and their neighbors to topple Assad. Romney says essentially the same thing but makes sure to mention Israel at least three times... chomping at the bit for a question on Israel!
9:26 Eye roll count: Romney 1, Obama 0
9:29 According to Obama, "American remains the one indispensable nation" in the world. As opposed to all those other ones... yeah, okay, I see your point.
9:37 Looking towards the future of foreign policy, Romney focuses on turning to Latin America - who's economy is as big as China's - as well as bolstering the economy through small business in the U.S. as we forge into the 21st century.
Obama counters by honing in on domestic education policy - we can't forge ahead without a well-educated workforce to give America a competitive edge in the world. Romney's polices don't do that.
Bob counters by asking both candidates - "Can we please get back to foreign policy!?"
Romney counters again by talking about state education policy.
Sneaky, but Bob finally delivers the knock-out punch: "I want to try to shift this because we have heard some of this in the other debates."
9:42 Question about military spending turns into an argument over Mitt's budget balancing skills, which he has honed over his 35-year career in business and will allow him to avoid cutting military spending. Obama says we need change our spending habits, citing the the fact that we don't spend money on bayonets and horses these days, as was the fashion circa 1842.
9:43 Obama: "I will stand with Israel if they are attacked." He disagrees with Romney's apparent zeal to take premature action in Israel.
Romney wants to tighten sanctions against Iran and will call the Iranian regime genocidal, drawing comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Obama reponds by saying that the process of spearheading these criminal sanctions is a painstaking process that requires the cooperation of nations like Russia. Iran must meet the demands of the international community, not only the United States. If it comes to the point we will do what is necessary to investigate their nuclear arms program.
Romney brings the conversation to the topic of American strength, or rather how we must not show weakness a lá Obama's "apology tour" after his election in 2008.
They are taking turns. They are putting forth decent points. This is good stuff.
9:54 The idea that Obama went on an apology tour is officially "the biggest whopper" of the campaign.
9:56 Romney says he calls it an "apology tour" because Obama apologized to Middle Eastern nations for dictating political terms in their countries. "Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations, America has freed other nations from dictators."
Tricky wordplay, but a wee bit of an overstatement perhaps.
9:59 Obama hits on a powerful point about being able to stand on the right side of history with his kind of balanced diplomacy, especially in terms of his visits to Israel. All Romney can do is roll his eyes (Romney 2, Obama 0).
10:04 Question: What do you do if the Afghans cannot handle their security by the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops?
Romney focuses on ensuring the stability of Pakistan, who will soon have more nuclear warheads than Great Britain.
Obama switches gears, saying that after a decade of nation-building (questionableeee) abroad, it is time to do some nation-building at home, and that we need to focus on the economy, education, gender equality, and getting our vets the care they deserve.
10:09 Did Bob Schieffer just say Obama Bin Laden?
Fun fact: Osama Bin Laden was 6'5".
10:12 Romney puts it very nicely that we need to put together a strategy that gets rid of 'extremism' abroad. Obama follows up by talking a little more specifically - we need to get rid of extremism BY supporting gender equality, promoting free market principles, and education.
Still vague, but getting there.
10:15 China time: Obama says China is a key partner, but only if and when they play by the rules. Cites a bunch of cases the U.S. has brought against China and won. He accuses Romney's proposed policies of hindering America from being competitive and thinks Romney calling him "protectionist" is misleading - Obama has been exerting efforts to keep jobs at home.
10: 17 Romney takes a moment for us to digest his killer phrase "currency manipulator." I feel he just subconsiously slipped into Bain mode, and "currency manipulator" is some kind of consulting buzz word. Like "synergy" or "hostile takeover."
Mitt, stop trying to make "currency manipulator" happen.
10:25 Romeny: "I want to invest in research. Research is great." Huzzah!
But he doesn't want to invest in companies, such as, for example, e.g., Solyndra.
10:28 Bob has definitely been the best at stopping rambling candidates, ending the debate by saying "Yes, we all love teachers" in response to Romney's point that he loves teachers but doesn't think the federal government should bury its way into education.
10:29 Closing statements!
Obama: strong, solid, inspiring, steady... totally fine.
Romney: strong, solid, inspiring, steady... totally fine.
Both played it safe in their closing statements actually, and both were totally fine. Compared to last time, when Romney opened up a can of worms by mentioning "100% of Americans" - giving Obama room to refer to his infamous 47% remarks - both delivered quality speeches, depending on who you're rooting for.
Bob closes out the affair by quoting his mother: "Go vote, it makes you feel big and strong." Amen.
UPDATE 11:25 A CBS snap poll is in, with a first impression tally revealing that 53% of uncommited voters think Obama was the winner, while 23% think Mitt deserves the W. 24% are undecided.