Gotta give credit to Obama, he came out swinging in this debate and did his homework. His campaign team must have bawled him out for being so unprepared in Debate #1, reminding him that Mitt Romney is no John McCain.
In terms of pure substance, imagery and style, I’d call this one a draw. Each candidate got in their shots, though it seemed that Candy Crowley interrupted Romney rebuttals more than she interrupted Obama’s. News-station timekeepers scored Obama having had three more total minutes to talk than Romney. Fact checkers will find flaws in some of the comments from both candidates, which always happens following a debate. Republicans will say they won, Democrats will say they won.
I thought the audience questions were particularly poignant, with one asking Romney why he would be different than George Bush. Romney specified a number of issues that separated him from Bush, including policies on energy, China and the handling of the deficit. In retort, Obama brought up the issue of Romney cutting government support for planned parenthood, which is a spinning way of saying a Romney presidency will not provide free contraceptives to women at taxpayers expense. I fail to understand how some women fall into this politico trap that they are being discriminated against because taxpayers do not want to support their sex life, or that taxpayers should help pay for abortions. I would also ask Mr. Obama if he thinks taxpayers should support condoms for men. Like, where does the spin end?
The best zinger of the night was Romney’s retort to the president, when Obama brought up the issue of Romney holding some investments in China. First, Romney pointed out that his wealth is held in a blind trust, therefore he has no control over those investments. Better yet, Romney pointed out that Obama’s pension funds are sourced, in part, in China as well. The president obviously saw it coming and tried, unsuccessfully, to ward it off.
Eleven questions were selected from audience attendees, by the moderator, Candy Crowley. I was disappointed that only one question pertained to Lybia or foreign affairs, which is a hot burner at the moment for the president. With foreign affairs, particularly the rise of Islamic extremism and the peril of Israel at the forefront, much more time should have been allotted this topic.
The whole issue got mired into semantics when Romney challenged Obama on acknowledging – from the beginning – whether or not the Benghazi attack was an act of terror. Obama claimed he called it an act of terror the next day, in a Rose Garden speech. Romney challenged that. Then Crowley interrupted to back Obama. In fact what Obama said on September 12th, reading from a prepared statement, was: “No acts of terror will ever shake this great nation, alter that character…” Thus, Obama did not specifically call that attack an act of terror, as he claimed, though he did refer to acts of terror in a general sense. They were both right, and Crowley should have kept her mouth shut. The meat got lost in that exchange, and Romney was too quick on the draw to make it major issue.
In all, while Obama improved, Romney held his own. I doubt either made any gains from this debate. I do believe that if and when either candidate makes a critical accusation of the other, the accused candidate should be afforded the opportunity to retort. Crowley didn’t allow that in several exchanges.
The bottom line which Romney brought out, is that Obama now has a track record for voters to evaluate, when there was no track record in 2008. That track record is not good, either in the economic front or in foreign affairs.
Romney has a sterling track record in most all his life’s endeavors, including private enterprise, the Olympics and the governorship of Massachusetts.
Yes, I am biased.