CBS News reported that its post-debate poll of 521 undecided voters showed that the president Obama had won the night by a 53% to 23% margin over Mitt Romney. 24% thought it was a tie. The margin of error in its poll was +/- 4 percentage points.
The biggest critique that Mitt Romney has faced has been that he has no core; he is “multiple choice” as Ted Kennedy famously put it. By endorsing the president’s foreign policy, Romney showed that his stances are ephemeral. There is no such thing as a core belief. In fact, his beliefs never fail to mirror those of the target audience. It begs the question: Does Romney have any firm beliefs at all? Politicians are often accused of changing policies in order to gain a political advantage. But Romney switches political stances like he is changing clothes. The most important question is the following: Would the media cover the blatant inconsistencies of Romney? Better yet, is character even mattered anymore in a president? The debate, however, was a clear win for the president as the polls indicated. Equally important, Romney’s endorsement of Obama’s foreign policy during the third debate would completely negate any criticism that conservatives would lodge against the president from this point forward.
Romney spent months attacking the president’s foreign policy as both “weak and dangerous.” Furthermore, he criticized Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as a “politically timed retreat.” During a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney described the president’s approach to the Middle East thusly: “Obama's lack of leadership had made the volatile region more dangerous.” In the third debate, Romney has barely uttered any criticism of the president’s policy in the Mideast. In fact, he mostly endorsed the course of action that the president has been pursuing in foreign affairs.
Conservatives have been highly critical of President Obama’s foreign policy. Despite their relentless criticism of Obama’s foreign policy in the past three years, the Republican presidential candidate has put his stamp on those very policies. To paraphrase a popular saying, there is no greater honor than having one’s policies being validated, if not fully embraced, by one’s opponent in front a large audience. Romney’s embrace of the president’s foreign policy forfeits that arena to Obama. Even more importantly, such validation would immunize the president against any criticism that conservatives would have on foreign affairs in the remainder of the campaign or for the next four years in case Obama gets a second term.