Tuesday Morning UPDATE
THE MORNING HEADLINES
The morning headlines of major US newspapers - and newspapers in key states - don't tell an exciting story. They don't declare winners and losers, and they do not speak of answers to foreign policy challenges. They speak of sameness, deadlock, fighting, shifting from foreign policy to other more comfortable issue areas, the end of the debates, playing offensive, challenging, and trading jabs. There were no excitedly definitive headlines and no serious guffaws highlighted. Each tells a little different story, but did it move the needle?
Los Angeles Times "Did the Debate End the Deadlock? Too Early to Say." Boston Globe "On Big Issues Goals are Similar, but Styles Differ" The Washington Post:"Obama keeps Romney on his heels in last debate" Tampa Tribune "Boca Bout Hits Hot Global Issues" Orlando Sentinel "Obama Aggressive in Foreign Policy Debate With Romney" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Focus Shifts from Foreign Policy to Domestic Economy in Final Presidential Debate" Philadelphia Inquirer "Round 3: War of Words on U.S. Global Tactics" Las Vegas Sun "Foreign Policy Debate Yields Similarities Amid the Sparring" Denver Post "Final Presidential Debate Salvos Fired Over Foreign Policy" Richmond TImes Dispatch "Obama Challenges Romney on Foreign Policy" New York Times:"Obama Plays Offense in Last Debate" Chicago Tribune"Obama Romney Trade Jabs in Final Debate" New Hampshire Union Leader "Syria, Iran Loom Large in Final Presidential Face-Off" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Election 2012 - Obama, Romney Clash on Global Issues" Wisconsin State Journal "Debates Over, Obama, Romney Pumped for Dash to the Finish"
Governor Romney is still my man. He was calm, polite and intelligent in his responses. I think the fact-checkers will find that he told the truth most often, and like many I find him very believable and well-focused. He knows that the economic mess the country is in right now has a strong impact on everything else. For example, it isn't possible to legislative our way out of problems but he spoke of the need to work in a bipartisan manner to bring back the good health to the greatest nation in the world. Too many jobs going to China isn't going to be solved by bullying companies but by making it more attractive to companies to keep their business here. Last night Governor Romney spoke bipartisan more than fight, and rational and reasonable more than bullying. What more do we need to know?
11:30 PM UPDATE
So maybe this debate didn't matter all that much!
Will this debate change the numbers? How many watched this, how many watched the games? For a bunch of undecided swing voters, did it keep their interest?
Before the debate was over, William Kristol blogged about President Romney.
Romney looked more like the president and acted like the president. President Obama acted like he was worried about losing his job and lashed out at the man who may have his job in a couple of months.
A disappointing point for me was that there was little discussion about Libya. Romney had a lot of material to work with but perhaps with the awkward moments last week, it was better form not to come out too hard on the debacle. There were many telling moments in the October 10 hearing that should not be forgotten.
I agree with these Top Four Moments from The Fix.
Obama: The 1980s are “calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Did anyone else want to shout out "we've been calling and you don't have any answers."
From foreign to domestic. Bob Sheifer had to draw the debate back to foreign policy at the point where it had begun to sound like a recording form the previous debates.
Obama: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets” than we did in 1916. The Navy slap was unmistakable. I can't believe there weren't more tweets!
Extended exchange over Iran. Obama, "those are reports in a newspaper. They are not true," denying Obama also denied a New York Times report that the U.S. and Iran have in principle agreed to talks about Iran's nuclear program.
It took until the bitter end, but I was glad to hear about China. "I want a great relationship with China...but that doesn't mean they can roll all over us," said Romney. More than once, President Obama mentioned the "level playing field" and sending jobs to China. The point that Romney tried to make, and Obama ignored, is that companies don’t outsource jobs for tax breaks. Companies outsource jobs because of the cost of doing business in America, which includes having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Like everything else, it comes back to fixing the economy and many things fall into place.
I appreciated Romney's ability to bring the debate back to the solution to many problems - getting the economy back in order and following a plan, something that the President failed to lay out, again.
The fact checkers are having a field day. Check back for more on this, but here is an early one:
If I had tuned in as an undecided voter, I probably would have switched the channel midway through. There was much recycled material, and not a lot of new learning. And it was not exciting. In short, there was not enough new and different to strongly move someone who was not already moved. I can't wait to read about it in the morning!!
The debates matter this election season. Now that the candidates are dead-even to slightly favoring Romney in several of the most recent polls, something needs to break the tie and help the undecided voters move one way or the other. After past debates, we've seen polling numbers change, listened to the before and after commentary, read thoughts on seemingly limitless websites and been amused by the viral and snarky tweets that take off like a rumor in a middle school cafeteria.
We had such a season of "spin" leading up to the debates, where the American people who didn't already know Mitt Romney had perhaps formed their impressions based on the Obama advertising. Focus has been increasingly, and sometimes successfully, diverted from the substance of the candidates and the seriousness of the state of the country to brush fires aimed at reeling in specific segments of the population (Medicare for seniors and birth control for young women, for example).
This final debate, on Monday night in Boca Raton, Florida, to be moderated by Bob Schieffer, starts the 15-day countdown to election day. There will be few other opportunities for lasting impressions before we go to the polls.
How different are the two candidates in the way they approach foreign policy? They support Iran sanctions, getting tough on China and getting out of Afghanistan. How much of voter support is simply going to come down to which candidate looks tougher, more presidential, and like the guy who can ensure Americans are safe.
Now that a very real possibility exists, people must be looking at Mitt Romney as the possible president, and wondering how he would handle current situations that, in some cases, aren't looking great for the President. To date, the debates have served to turn the race around a little bit and keep Romney in focus enough for people to take a longer look.
I am hopeful that an educational discussion about Afghanistan and China will occur. Doubtless we will be exposed to more about Libya and the safety of those in foreign service posts. Those things should be discussed, and revisited from the confusion of last week's debate.
I'm excited. I can't wait to see how both candidates look, behave toward one another, appear confident in their answers, and give specifics about how their policies are the best for our citizens and the strength of our relationships. Let's hope that this debate will be brought to us by the letter S for "substantive" rather than B for Big Bird or binders. This debate matters!
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THE END - 10:30
It's over. Listening to commentary. President was critical and "downright disrespectful."
William Kristol called it for President Romney
Romney has an agenda. Obama attacks Romney but his agenda.
"I would do nothing to hurt the US auto industry," Romney.
Did he just play the Holocaust card?
This is the least foreign traveled president ever, and his SecState is the most foreign traveled.
Oh how nice it will be to sleep peacefully again if Romney was there to receive that call at 3 o'clock am. Obama scares me, always has.
This is awkward.
Pakistan - drink!
Anyone else wondering where the foreign policy debate went?
I'm challenged tonight to analyze a foreign policy debate in 140 characters or less.
Opening argument/closing argument. How important?
Which station are you watching? CNN here.
UPDATE 8:40 PM
Excited. Glad I am not a football fan, though. Competition tonight.
Saw this tweet. Worth checking out. @fredthompson Fred Thompson