In the first debate, President Obama was widely criticized for his poor delivery. Tonight, Governor Romney’s performance was not only poor; it showed his obvious discomfort with the issue at hand. So which is the better showdown to sleep through, the first or the last? The answer is likely to determine who comes out on top after the final of three presidential debates.
Obama came into tonight’s debate with an obvious advantage, leading 49% to Romney’s 46% on international affairs. If the debate had ended in a tie, Romney would have ultimately come out on top. This scenario worked in his favor in the first debate and brought Romney a boost in the polls. He was able to prove that he could stand beside the President as an equal, and that perception spoke volumes to the American public.
But the president, whoever he may be, will be expected to take on more than just domestic policy. The president will work to prevent a nuclear Iran, facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan, and shape the future of our military strategy and spending. He will be expected to greet his diplomatic duties with strength and confidence, thereby projecting America’s strength to the world. Tonight, Romney did not prove that he is capable of stepping up to this plate.
Rather, Romney appeared to stumble over answers and frequently parted with his previously stated policies.
On Iran, Romney widely agreed with the president’s current policy, ignoring that in June he stated that, “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite...”
He endorsed the president’s policies in Afghanistan after having criticized Obama for setting a timeline for ending the war.
And on defense spending, Romney quoted former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, who has said, "The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," forgetting that in the same speech, Mullen went on to say that the Pentagon has not been proactive enough in prioritizing spending, and that the department should adopt responsible fiscal practices. Romney’s own policies would continue to raise Pentagon spending by $2.1 trillion.
Obama comes out the clear winner in this debate, but the question remains to be seen whether this particular exchange will move the polls as much as the first. The president, having proven that he deserves to lead the way on both domestic and foreign policy issues, would seem to have the clear advantage.
Check out my live blog of the debate here.