The Third Presidential Debate

Once again, my live-tweets and retweets were collated. I agree with those who believe that President Obama may have won on points, but that Mitt Romney did nothing to hurt himself, and that he passed the commander-in-chief test (David Gergen’s words). The first presidential debate likely remains the most consequential one; I don’t think that this third debate will move the polls nearly as much as the first one did. Indeed, the polls continue to show movement towards Romney and while that movement may have slowed somewhat in the aftermath of the last two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, the movement may well still be enough–as John King pointed out on CNN after the debate ended–to make Mitt Romney the 45th president of the United States.

It seemed to me that both campaigns believe that Romney is the frontrunner. That’s why the president was constantly trying to attack Romney and to draw him in a verbal scuffle, and why Romney sought to avoid getting into a back-and-forth, focusing instead on winning moderates and independents to his campaign. I would have preferred that Romney hit back against the president a few times, but the tone and tenor of the debate make clear the consensus view that Romney is in the driver’s seat. No one should take victory for granted, of course. But before the first debate, the clock was working in favor of the president. All he had to do was to avoid making any mistakes, and re-election would have been his.

Now, Barack Obama finds the clock and the trends working against him. He may have won the third debate, but I don’t think he did much to change those trend lines.

  1. Peter Fumo

    I seriously don’t understand the comments that Obama won on points. Obama was petty and small throughout this debate. Romney constantly hammered him on his economic record (making point that economic vitality is part of our strength in the world) and constantly pointed out that we are weaker in the world than we were 4 years ago. I do wish he had made more points  about withdrawing missile defense from Poland and should have pushed more on the “I will be more flexible after the election” line. However, he delivered the strongest line of the debate, (paraphrasing) that we don’t dicatate, we end dictatorships. Obama goofed as well with his patronizing comments about defense and bayonets. All in all, I think Romney won on points and style. As an aside, after debate Michelle gave a weak smile to Obama as if she knew he lost.

  2. Peter Fumo

    And another thing: did I hear correctly that, when discussing SOFA with Iraq, Obama said we would be WEAKER in the Middle Eastwith 10,000 troops remaining in Iraq?

  3. Instugator
    Peter Fumo: All in all, I think Romney won on points and style. 

    Absolutely

  4. Doc Stephens

    Obama did not “win” on “points” or in any other way, though his team will spin it that way. Such a judgment is wholly subjective. The only measure of victory will come to light on November 6.

    Romney was presidential. He was way above the fray. Obama was angry, defensive, sometimes snarling and petulant. Romney’s facts were facts. Obama’s facts were delusions. Romney strategically sought the vote of the undecided in the swing states. He appealed to those who may not have paid too much attention until now except to the character assassinations of the Obama campaign ads.

    He has our vote and he’ll never get the vote of Chris Matthews. Mitt Romney was the adult. Obama was the exasperated child.  Obama appeared to be the challenger, but he fell far short of victory on this night.  He did not win on points, style, or substance.

  5. Doc
    Doc Stephens: Obama did not “win” on “points” or in any other way, though his team will spin it that way. Such a judgment is wholly subjective. The only measure of victory will come to light on November 6.

    Exactly.  The headlines in the Washington Post, on CNN, Yahoo, and maybe others boldly proclaimed Obama the winner within seconds of the closing statements.  That’s how these memes get started.  Say it loudly and often enough and it becomes fact.  In the debate I watched, Romney came out of the gate a little slow, but gained confidence and command as the night progressed.  By the end, he was the clear winner.  Obama spoke confidently, but he was often in the weeds, making little sense.   He is also getting credit for his horses and bayonets analogy, but he was just parsing words there.  When Romney spoke of strengthening the navy, he wasn’t excluding carriers and subs.  Being pithy doesn’t translate into “winning on points”.

  6. Doc

    I’m just wondering if viewership was down for this third debate and if the screeching by the MSM will be enough to move the polls in Obama’s favor.

  7. Goldgeller

    I don’t quite get the whole “winning on points” thing. I think I understand what people are trying to say, but I don’t get it– whether it’s Romney or Obama. I think the debate was fairly even. Part of that may have been by design– a lot of people were saying that Romney simply needed to avoid losing and look like he could be a Foreign Policy President. Fair enough. I suspect that Obama supporters will say Obama “won” and Romney supporters will say Romney won. I think Romney succeeded in showing he had a governing vision, and I think Romney’s biggest point was connecting the economy to our foreign policy strength. Romney drug Obama into that area and I don’t think he [Obama] wanted to be there. 

  8. liberal jim

    If the goal of the debate was to make it more likely that people would go to the poles and vote for a given candidate I think Romney clearly won.  He went into the debate with this as his clear objective.  Obama at times seemed to forget that this is what he was there for.

  9. Instugator
    Goldgeller: I don’t quite get the whole “winning on points” thing.

    Points = substance.

    Style = perception.

    Two elements that go into the feeling of who won. In other words – Romney won both which is what I read in Peter’s comment and what I agree with.

  10. Peter Fumo

    That is exactly what I meant. Thanks!

  11. Joan of Ark La Tex

    Sorry sir, you are so wrong. 

  12. Goldgeller
    Instugator

    Goldgeller: I don’t quite get the whole “winning on points” thing.

    Points = substance.

    Style = perception.

    Two elements that go into the feeling of who won. In other words – Romney won both which is what I read in Peter’s comment and what I agree with. · 48 minutes ago

    I could be guilty of trying to overthink Mr. Pejman’s post. But the style thing… you have to give style points right? So is it good to be soft to get women voters? Or should you really go after him? Did Obama seem small and petty or did he seem in command?

    Substance? The substance part of the debate, I think in some ways was a bit of a wash, with many arguments being over the margins. We didn’t get into the major ideological differences. I like Romney, certainly, but our foreign policy probably won’t change much. The rhetoric will– and rhetoric matters– but it won’t change much. So I can’t really Romney “won.”

  13. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    I think that Obama was interested in trying to win the debate. I think Romney was interested in trying to win moderates and independents. I think both candidates achieved their objectives, but Romney’s was much more important when it comes to trying to win the actual election.

  14. Goldgeller
    Pejman Yousefzadeh: I think that Obama was interested in trying to win the debate. I think Romney was interested in trying to win moderates and independents. I think both candidates achieved their objectives, but Romney’s was much more important when it comes to trying to win the actual election. · 1 hour ago

    That makes a lot of sense, and it seems true to me. Obama couldn’t risk another debate where he seemed asleep at the wheel, and Romney needed to seem knowledgeable and avoid making any major mistakes and not seem too radical (for the moderates!) So I think he did that.

    I hope it works!

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