October 22, 2012
In the third debate, Obama had to show in 90 minutes that the first two debates were a fluke, and that Romney was not presidential enough to end his tenure. He did not do that by any means; for all his pique, interruptions, and attacks, Obama scored few points against the workmanlike Romney who knew that he simply did not have to lose. In any debate, when the two score comparable points, the more aggressive and petulant usually comes off less well, especially given that Romney’s tone and expression were more like the reflective performance of his wildly successful first debate. The take-away quotes and sound bites from the debate will favor Romney.
I predict that either Obama will not gain traction from his performance or, more likely, his standing will continue to erode as the public becomes assured that Romney is not only more knowledgeable but more likable and steady, especially when the pressure was on him in this final debate and the president went all out to call him both untruthful and uncaring.
The key, again, is to ask whether Obama will arrest the erosion in his support, and the answer is clearly no — it will only continue as the third debate confirms the verdict that was established in the first and not altered in the second.
Third Segment: Israel
By Pete Hegseth, National Review Online
October 22, 2012
Big difference: Obama says Iran can’t have nuclear weapons, and Romney says Iran can’t have nuclear capabilities. Big difference on red lines, and big difference from Israel’s perspective. The president can talk about “support for Israel,” but actions speak louder than words. These nuances matter, and “weapons” versus “capabilities” can make months of difference.
Romney’s statement on weakness versus strength on Iran was very strong — a clear difference. Sitting down with dictators is not a plan, nor is an apology tour. The subtle differences between strength and weakness may seem small to us, but the mullahs in Iran understand the contrast.
Romney quote of the segment, and of the night: “America has not dictated to other nations; we have freed other nations.” Obama’s response was in relation to when he was a candidate . . . because, of course, he has not been to Israel as president. Great point.
Romney’s Consistency: He Did Offer Help for Auto Industry — Post Bankruptcy
By Patrick Brennan, National Review Online
In his November 2008 New York Times op-ed, Romney proposed government guarantees for the auto companies’ post-bankruptcy financing. Obama adamantly denied this tonight, claiming you can “check the record.” Well, here it is: no proposal for liquidation, and suggestions for government support after restructuring, what Romney claimed tonight, and Obama denied he’d done:
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost. . . .
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.
Some conservatives may disagree with that proposal, but Romney did propose a middle-of-the-road solution in which the federal government would not now be holding an equity stake in the auto industry, the value of which has dropped dramatically over the past months, but would have provided some aid after bankruptcy. This was yet another issue where Obama attempted to accuse Romney of inconsistencies, where there was none.
Tortois Ties: Hare’s Concerned
By Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online
Partway through the debate, however, Romney started pushing for the win. His pivot to the economy might have seemed like evasion, but Obama followed him into domestic policy because he saw the risk of not answering the challenge. This put Romney on familiar ground and you could see his confidence grow.
Then Romney came hard at Obama on Iran, Israel, and the general decline of America’s influence in the world. The look on Obama’s face as Romney was discussing Democratic concerns about his Israel policy was pained. It was the first time he lost his confident stare. Then Romney did what he does best, paint a picture of general decline in America’s fortunes abroad under Obama’s stewardship. This worked almost as well on foreign policy as it does when Romney applies it to domestic policy. It was the pivotal moment of the debate.
By the end I thought Romney had at least won his tie, and maybe even inched out victory by a nose. He did it by playing offense at critical moments during a generally restrained, respectful, and competent performance. In effect, Romney carefully pivoted between playing for a tie and a win, and the strategy worked.
Obama has got to be concerned now. He held up his end well enough, but the president needed more than that to halt Romney’s momentum. Romney has now decisively established himself as a credible alternative to Obama. At a moment when the public thinks this country is headed in the wrong direction, that spells serious trouble for the incumbent.
Focus-Grouped Romney Edges Disdainful Obama
By Jim Geraghty, National Review Online
October 22, 2012
I suppose the Obama gameplan was to portray Romney as another George W. Bush, and Romney defused that by declaring, “we can’t kill our way out of this problem.” Not the argument you’re used to seeing from a Republican against a Democrat.
Obama’s near-explosion — “bayonets and horses… this isn’t Battleship” will stand out. Boy, was president Obama snippy and sneering during that answer. Obama couldn’t contain his disdain and contempt for Romney in any of these debates, and it really flared tonight.
Chris Wallace just said that a Marine wrote him, “the Marines still use bayonets.”
Nothing changes. Romney’s got the momentum and is making his pitch to the remaining undecideds, who are deciding between voting for Romney and staying home. Obama and his campaign have decided to make these final weeks about base motivation, and hope that the president’s 47 percent or so will be enough to get him to 270 electoral votes. Maybe it will work, but it’s an extraordinarily high-risk approach for a president who won with gobs of electoral votes to spare four years ago.