The final Presidential debate was on foreign policy. The Obama Campaign were probably licking their chops and drooling with excitement when they first learned that the final debate topic was on foreign policy. After all they got Osama Bin Laden right? Even with the most egregious and dangerous intelligence leaks allegedly coming from inside his own Administration the President was perceived as being stronger than Mitt Romney on foreign policy.
That was until one word changed it all. Benghazi. The Obama Administration’s complete bungling of the attack on our embassy was the single worst foreign policy embarrassment for a sitting President since Jimmy Carter; and we all know how that ended.
The President’s foreign policy has garnered mixed results at best. On the one hand he has been systematically killing terrorists all over the Middle East in large numbers. His weapon of choice has been unmanned drones. I think I’m going to coin a phrase right now and call him President Odrona.
But on the other hand he has stood on the sidelines and watched as the Middle East has gotten more dangerous, more violent, and more radical. He has shunned our closest ally Israel, and has not thwarted the Iranians from continuing to develop nuclear weapons.
In the first debate Mitt Romney flat out embarrassed the President. He prosecuted the President’s record and talked to him like he never has been talked to before. And he did it in front of 69 million voters. In the second debate the President was able to fog a mirror and show some sign of life, however the damage was already done. The President knew it. Mitt Romney knew it. And most importantly the American people knew it. The race has never been the same.
In the final debate Mitt Romney did something that not many on the left or the right had expected. He changed his tactics and took the high road instead. Many of us were expecting him to continue to pick at the open wound which was the Libya story but he didn’t. Instead he did his best impression of Barack Obama.
In 2008 candidate Barack Obama was essentially in the same position Mitt Romney finds himself in today. He was leading John McCain and momentum was clearly on his side. He decided to play it safe, not attack, and look presidential. Mitt Romney did the exact same thing. He played it safe, didn’t attack, and looked presidential.
The President on the other hand debated like someone who knew they were behind and needed a knockout. He was condescending, smarmy, and small. Mitt Romney did not take the bait. He sat there, took the punches, and smartly didn’t hit back. He didn’t need to. He already nearly knocked him out in the first debate and knew the President was clearly swinging for the fences. Mitt Romney was calm, cool, and collected, and like any great prizefighter was able to control the fight. He debated like someone who knew he was winning and it showed. The President’s aggressive tone may have won him the debate but Romney won the hearts and minds of the judges, the voters.
Most voters trust Mitt Romney more when it comes to the economy. Before the Benghazi fiasco most voters trusted the President more when it came to national security. So the score was tied at one a piece. After the final debate in which Mitt Romney showed his vast knowledge of foreign affairs he neutralized the one thing the President was perceived to be stronger on, national security. In doing so Mitt Romney showed voters that the one area he was perceived to be weakest in was suddenly no longer a liability.
One last thing, even though the two candidates agreed more often than not; Mitt Romney was able to show strength where the President has shown weakness. For instance, he talked about not cutting the military spending where the President has called for crippling cutbacks. He said he would indict Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for war crimes for his genocidal comments directed at Israel. And he promised on day one to label China a currency manipulator. Tougher talk than the President but certainly not Ronald Reagan either.
Mitt Romney had to walk a very tight rope. He needed to be strong enough but not so strong that the left would be able to paint him as a George W. Bush like cowboy. Mitt Romney passed all the tests put before him and is very close to the finish line. He has out worked, out smarted, and out maneuvered the President in all three debates. He has thoroughly passed the Commander in Chief test in the eyes of America and is well on his way to doing it for real next January.
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