The Foreign Policy Debate

The third and final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was held last night. The full debate is below. Polling showed that the President “won” the debate, and I do agree. But what else, if anything, was at play? The speculation please!

Mitt Romney, as has been his history, essentially took a u-turn on policy. That should surprise no one. But the u-turn, as on domestic policy, was towards the center and away from the neo-con dogma that he has been embracing as a candidate. We learn that even Mitt Romney has come to understand that the neo-con philosophy of bombing just about everyone is not acceptable to the American public. He more often than not agreed with the President, and disagreed on the margins. The President was aggressive throughout, and seemed determined to correct and criticize Romney. Mitt Romney is really moving to attempt to close the gender gap, and to appeal to independents. As much as Mitt Romney has been fundamentally dishonest in his approach to issues, both foreign and domestic, it is clear that his campaign etch-a-sketch is having a positive impact for him. (See todays post on Ohio polling by Suffolk)

Does the Romney demeanor tell us anything else? It may be that both campaigns, through internal polling, see the race moving in Mitt Romney’s direction. That is speculation, but the Romney folks appear to like the current trajectory. I believe the Romney centrist, easy approach here is reflective of their new confidence. The President is still trying to make up for that first debate, and will not have folks saying he was asleep during debate three. But without question the Obama folks do not like the current track, and the President’s demeanor, beyond making up for debate 1, may reflect the campaign’s view that they need to stop Romney momentum. Speculation, but worth a thought.

In the end last night’s debate, even if won by Obama, will not move the political needle all that much, if at all. It is all about the ground game now, and for Obama driving Democratic turnout. All eyes look towards Ohio.

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