The debates are over and most of the country, outside of the DC beltway, is glad to them come to close. Those who were hoping for another raucous round of debating as we saw in the second debate, were likely somewhat disappointed, or at the very least confused. While Romney tried throughout to sound tough, presidential and firm on his stances, he basically agreed with Obama time and time again. In terms of trying to prove why people should toss Obama out and vote him in, Romney failed to make the case.
Overall I was keeping a rather loose score on each period of questioning and while some were easily a draw, others soundly went to Obama. He not only proved his positions were the same as Romney was now claiming to have (even though many were wildly different only a couple weeks ago), but he continually reminded the audience of what Romney said during the 18-month campaign. His “etch-a-sketch” meme was pulled out and put on full display and it played handily into Obama’s critique of Romney as an unsound and frivolous leader. Romney was never able to fully dissuade that impression tonight, even though he has before.
He just looked unsure of himself from the moment he sat down. He knew the attacks were going to come and someone in his campaign felt it was best not to retaliate after the horrible stumble in the second debate. They just sat there and took blow after blow and you could see the forced smile on Romney’s face become a plastic mask of agony.
Let’s look at the points where they both agreed:
- Virtually identical positions on Syria (no troops on the ground, help the opposition without letting weapons get into radical hands)
- Promote women’s rights (obvious pandering from both sides to American women, but Obama has a much better track record here and overwhelming support in terms of the gender gap)
- Sanctions on Iran (Romney’s only difference is he said he would have started earlier, which Obama should have done when he wasn’t president?)
Sadly, in a debate that was touted to focus on foreign affairs, that’s about the full spectrum of what they discussed. Both candidates knew that right now the economy is still number one and a majority of the country doesn’t want to hear about what we plan to do overseas, but instead what we intend to do here. Each of them pivoted back to American shores as quickly as possible; in some cases by just refusing to answer the question in front of them.