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.
Romney scored by reciting a litany of places in the Middle East that Obama had visited early in his Presidency while skipping Israel. He quoted Obama as saying that America would no longer dictate to other nations. Romney said, "We have not dictated to other nations, we have freed other nations from dictators."
At the three-quarter mark, 10:00, Obama was in full attack mode. He realized he was not having a good night - that the challenger was more than holding his own - defaulted to playing the "I killed bin Laden" card.
Also, by 10:00 pm Eastern, the San Francisco Giants were more than holding their own as well leading the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
It took until 10:15 before the conversation went anywhere in the world beyond the Middle East and Africa. China.
Romney called for treating China as a full partner, but only if they play by the rules; that he would label the Chinese a currency manipulator.
Schieffer asked Romney if he weren't risking a trade war with China. Romney answered that because we buy so much more from China than China buys from us, they don't want - and can't afford a trade war with us.
Romney's point that our trade imbalance gives us the upper hand to get China to get in line.
Obama responded with what sounded like a sophomoric reprise of the last debate that Romney knows about how China does business because he (Romney) had invested in businesses there.
This was one of those answers that supporters of each man probably thought their guy won.
For the last 10 minutes the two men argued over domestic policy - the auto industry; jobs; food stamps; the debt; and, unemployment.
At 10:28 Bob Schieffer - who did a wonderful job - ended the debate and called for closing statements.
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