First of all, I have to say that Bob Schieffer was the best moderator of the season. I had only one issue with him all night, but it was minor. His questions were great, relevant and at-times provocative. He stood up to the alpha males and kept refocusing things on foreign policies as much as they would allow.
Here’s a link to the video feed. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2006/12/hillary_clinton-2/
I was going to try to write a debate-encompassing post, but it was too unfocused and rambling. Instead this post will be about the times I though Romney should have responded better to criticisms or Obama’s positions. I have felt that throughout the campaign season, President Obama has been setting up perfect opportunities for Mitt Romney to capitalize on, but that these have largely gone unexploited. Here’s my list from tonight.
1. The president has mentioned on several occasions that he’s keeping Americans safe. There is nothing technically wrong with this claim, but Romney is missing a chance here.
–The response I was waiting for: Mr. President, keeping Americans safe should include our soldiers overseas. Our deadliest months of conflict have been under your administration and your withdrawal plan. At what point do you plan on re-visiting your policy? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/afghanistan-war-july-deadliest-month_n_1792412.html)
2. As a slam against Romney, Obama attacked Mitt’s support of going to Iraq on the basis of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
–What Mitt should have said: You criticize my dependence on the intelligence available at the time, and somehow try to make it seem like that means I am less qualified for this job. However, you chose Hilary Clinton to be Secretary of State–to advise you on foreign affairs and oversee diplomacy with other countries. Secretary Clinton voted for the Iraq War Resolution and defended her vote because of the available intelligence at the time. (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2006/12/hillary_clinton-2/).
3. Cleary Obama’s strategy tonight was to paint Romney as a flip-flopper, which most conservatives have criticized all along. Anyhow, regarding foreign policy, Obama said that Romney needed to be clear on his foreign policy. He directly followed this up by saying that he’d given Syria a timeline (which hasn’t been enforced)
–The chance: Mr. President, you just said that the commander-in-chief need to be clear…An unenforced timeline is not a clear message on the international stage.
4. The talk of power vacuums is always interesting. Both candidates talked of making sure that new powers which arise are “friends” to America. Nobody discusses how. Anyway…
–Strong Romney response: Like the Muslim Brotherhood?
5. Obama made the claim that companies are attracted to places with the most qualified candidates.
–Response Romney probably couldn’t give…but should have: Bull. They go the places that will help their profit margin. Clearly, you aren’t used to keeping an eye on the Bottom Line.
6. When Obama disputed the term Apology Tour, Mitt actually lived up to my hopes and pointed out specific examples, and later revisited it when discussing how the President has been “projecting weakness.” This also lead to Romney’s best sound-bite of the night: “America has not dictated to other nations, but freed them from dictators.” I’m not 100 percent behind the claim, but it’s a nice sound bite.
7. Obama gave a great sound bite of his own only moments later when discussing the execution of Osama bin Laden and his death being worth “moving heaven and earth.” Romney wouldn’t have been able to argue that in any winnable way, however he could have responded to it since his time was up next.
–To the point: The death of Osama bin Laden was cathartic, and a fulfillment of a decade-long promise. He was an evil man who deserved to be brought to justice. However, a president must also ask himself, ‘Does this make us safer?’ Did it improve relations with Pakistan? Did it result in a decrease in terrorist activity? I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been taken out, but did the death of one man make America safer?
8. A point of clarification: Obama kept saying Romney was calling for military increases that the military was not asking for, but Romney stated clearly that the Navy said they need 300-something ships to be effective but are working with 200-something. I do not have all the information on this, but I would like to know what the military would have to say about it.
I’m only giving my general impressions here. Quotes aren’t necessary since this thing will be talked to death for the next week.
Obama was charismatic, but he needs to stop blaming Bush. Some of the “failed economic policies” he refers to were put in place by Clinton and presidents before. (Specifically banking policies which lead to the bad mortgages.) Plus, he’s had 4 years. Ownership would be nice eventually.
When the president mentioned the road and bridge investments, all I could think about was more “bridges to nowhere.” I’m not saying he was wrong or that it’s a bad plan (not saying it’s a good one), just thought it was interesting that those phrases struck such a chord with me.
Romney did a great job pointing out the projected debt, and making promises…but fell into a familiar trap of not saying how he intends to accomplish anything.
I thought it was brave to take on food stamps considering the 47 percent debacle.
To the chagrin of many hard-core conservatives, he does actually have a great record for bi-partisanship which would be a nice turn, and I’m glad he brought it up.
His little phrase that got me side-tracked was his talk of working with “good Democrats” and “good Republicans.” I just can’t help but wonder what he plans to do with the “bad ones.” Anyway, his closing statements–his appeal to the people was very Reagan-esque in all the best ways.
The moderator’s ending quote was cute. It went something like “My mom said, ‘Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.” I love this sentiment because that is exactly how voting makes me feel.
Please comment, but be warned, I will delete unnecessary nastiness.