“[Mitt Romney] will bring back the foreign policy of the 1980s, the social policy of the 1950s and the economic policy of the 1920s.” — President Barack Obama
The finale of the trio of presidential debates between incumbent President Barack Obamaand Republican Party hopeful, Mitt Romney, didn’t offer the pyrotechnics of the first and, perhaps, even the second debate. What the showdown at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, did prove was that in a proper setting, there is no more effective debater than President Obama when it comes to being clear in delivery and facts. Using the numbers from a variety of snap polls over the night, it appears the “undecideds” have given the nod to the POTUS as well.
From pundits and commentators on television, to a variety of folks chiming in via social media channels, it is clear that Obama won tonight’s debate. For much of the pivotal foreign policy face-off, Obama looked his opponent square in the eye, appearing dominant but never condescending, and never rude. He boldly branded the former governor’s policies as “wrong and reckless,” while unapologetically exposing his recurring bouts of “romnesia.”
Conversely, Romney looked shaky and uncertain, often looking away from the president while making his hesitant counter-points. Only when Romney felt he had enough ammunition to challenge Obama did he look towards him. And, as has been the case since the debates began, Romney attempted to bully moderator, Bob Schieffer, much as he did in times past, but fell short of his goal against the savvy CBS News veteran.
Curiously, the former Massachusetts governor shied away from some of his hard positions on foreign policy, especially American standing with Israel and often agreed with a number Obama’s talking points. In an especially telling moment, the president gave Romney a lesson on military leadership when speaking on the size of the Navy and its request for more ships:
“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama said, seeming to mock Romney’s outdated comprehension of what constitutes military might. “We have these things called ‘aircraft carriers,’ and planes land on them.
“We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships; it’s, ‘What are our capabilities?’”
Laughter erupted throughout the venue.
There were several other zingers during the debate, perhaps the most damaging coming in the later moments of the debate where Obama checked Romney on his opposing views on the auto industry bailout. “Governor, you keep on trying to airbrush history,” Obama said. ”You were very clear that would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went to bankruptcy.”
If Mitt Romney gets any credit for his showing tonight, it was his propensity to stick to his rigid delivery and never seeming terribly rattled no matter how hard he stumbled. He did, however, made gaffes in bringing up previously fact-checked points during the debate which Obama swatted away with much ease. Obama wasn’t without his flaws either, especially when he incorrectly called out Romney on a scholarship program he created for Massachusetts high school students who graduated in the top quarter of their class. Obama’s missteps were minor overall, thrusting him forward in the tightly contested race as a grizzled, battle-tested leader.
Romney’s sub-par showing may not shift the tide overwhelmingly in Obama’s direction, especially for those xenophobic voters who have narrow perspectives when it comes to politics. It cannot be denied, though, that Romney’s words rang as hollow as his elusive, shape-shifting policies. His phantom plans for moving the country forward comes from his perspective as a CEO, not as a president and commander-in-chief. Obama looked to be not only in touch with his current role, he looked prepared to lead the country for a second term.
In just 14 days, a decision will be made that will determine the course of the country for the next four years, and there is no way to predict who will come out on top as of now. But it is safe to say that President Barack Obama looks to surge mightily after tonight’s strong showing.