The foreign policy debate was not given much chance of being a game changer. No one really thought that a talk about the future of US-Myanmar relations was going to move the needle very much.
Incumbent Presidents are expected to know more about foreign policy than their challengers, but the challengers' … challenge is to show that if they get the daily security briefing in the Oval Office they can handle the job.
If that is a fair measure, then Mitt Romney won this debate. He exhibited a broad knowledge of the issues confronting America's relationships around the world, and didn't back down in the face of attacks by Barack Obama.
Obama's preppers had obviously decided that their tactic of the 2nd debate: Talk about what Obama did well then attack Romney, did so well that he would do it again.
However, this time it sounded forced and to my, admittedly, subjective opinion, contrived.
At the 30 minute mark, Bob Schieffer had gotten the candidates to discuss both Libya and Egypt, which the two candidates played to a draw.
By 9:33 they had completely pivoted from foreign policy to domestic policy.
Romney talked about creating 12 million jobs; Obama went to hiring more teachers.
When Schieffer asked Romney about military spending, he spent his two minutes talking about cutting wasteful and expensive domestic programs. Obama, talked about Romney's call for $2 trillion spending on military "that the military doesn't want."
Romney came back and talked about the Navy needing more ships; Obama said "this isn't a game of battleship." He didn't channel Joe Biden in his debate against Paul Ryan, but he was getting perilously close to sounding un-Presidentially condescending.
Israel came up half-way through at 9:45.
Schieffer asked: "Would either of you declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the U.S. which is a pledge we've made to other allies."
This debate, remember, is in Florida with a huge Jewish population.
Obama answered first and didn't agree, but said "We will stand with Israel" even when Schieffer pushed him on it.
I'm not sure what the difference is, but Obama does and that Obama didn't agree will not be lost on those in America who want to protect Israel against an Iranian attack.
Romney said "If Israel is attacked we have their back; not just diplomatically … but militarily" which was a much stronger answer. We'll see over the next few days what effect that has on the polls in the state of Florida.
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