The Last Presidential Debate: Obama Hit Mitt Hard But Romney Won (See The Full Debate Video and Transcript)

   Bookmark and Share   Without question, President Obama had a good night last night but he failed to achieve his goal of beating Mitt Romney by landing political punches that successfully painted Romney as a clueless, warmonger whom Americans can’t trust on the world stage  (See the transcript and video of the entire debate at the bottom of this post).

From the beginning it was clear that the two men had two entirely different demeanors.  President Obama began and ended the night with an aggressive, combative almost angry quality that was often sarcastic and condescending.  For his part, Romney was friendly, respectful and un-rattled by the President.  But most of all, while President Obama failed to essentially disqualify Romney and his foreign policy vision, Governor Romney again passed the presidential test and proved to the American people that he is prepared to take on the job of President.

President Obama tried his best to describe Romney as “always wrong”, and “all over the map” and at one point he even spoke to the Governor as if he were a child after launching in to this diatribe about Romney’s call for a stronger navy;

“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

For Romney, while he spent most of the night demonstrating that he is quite informed on matters of foreign policy and proving that he has a vision for America’s role in the world, he never exhibited the type of bitter and arrogant behavior that was put on display by the President.  And in one of his strongest remarks of the night, Romney turned the attacks against him on to the President ;

“I can say this, that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing, and the rising tide of tumult and – and confusion. And – and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.”said Romney.

Overall, President Obama may have actually won last night’s debate on the basis of his ability to defend his own unravelling foreign policy by aggressively trying to put Romney on the defense throughout the night.  But Romney was actually less defensive than the President and held his own.   In doing so Romney made this debate a draw, which for a challenger to a sitting President is ultimately a win.

Many may not initially see it that that way though.  That includes Romney supporters, who may have been disappointed by the fact that Mitt Romney did not beat President Obama over the head with Benghazi.  But as I suggested in a post prior to the debate  any attempt to go after the President so aggressively on Benghazi  risked “the creation of a new narrative that will suggest that Romney took legitimate questions about the events surrounding Benghazi and exploited them by over-politicizing them in a desperate attempt to win the presidential election.  Such a narrative just two weeks before Election Day would produce irreversibly damaging results for the Romney-Ryan ticket and future headlines in the biased liberal media will deal more with their accusing Romney of attempting to exploit Benghazi than the facts that make Mitt Romney right to make Benghazi an issue”.

I added;

“So while the temptation to confront President Obama with the evidence and questions surrounding the obvious foreign policy and national security blunders behind Benghazi, Romney would probably be best advised to allude to these legitimate concerns in broader terms.”

It is clear that Governor Romney agreed and instead he used this debate as an opportunity to apply a strategy that targeted listeners of the debate who’s votes he needs to win in key battleground states such as Florida and Ohio.  This too was a point I predicted Romney would take in the post refered to above.  Romney applied this strategy by offering a solid defense of his position on the auto bailouts, a point Romney proved the President to be wrong about when he mischaracterizes Romney’s real position.   Romney’s decision to spend time explaining that domestic policy issue during a foreign policy debate was a clear attempt by Romney to address the swing voters among Ohio’s  auto workers.

Romney also appealed quite well to the relatively large Jewish vote in the battleground state of Florida.  In one exchange between the two men, Romney eloquently laid out  how much “daylight” President Obama created “between ourselves and Israel”.

All of this means that Governor Romney accomplished all that he really needed to last night.  Not only did he avoid making any gaffe’s, he demonstrated a clear knowledge and command of foreign policy issues.  He also conducted himself in a way that avoided any negative impressions among voters who watched the debate.  While President Obama may have turned off some voters with his small and petty style during the debate, Romney was  strong, confident and principled.

In the final analysis Romney needed to demonstrate that he is presidential and on equal  footing with President Obama and when all was said and done, he did just that.  That means that despite President Obama’s strong but condescending performance, Mitt Romney won.  Why?  Because President Obama failed to change few if any of the undecided minds that he needed to if he wants to win this election.  But Romney’s inoffensive performance added to his credibility as a candidate and it quite tactfully targeted the voters he needed to speak to last night.  And with the momentum behind Mitt, President Obama failed to turn this election around.

Click here for or a complete transcript of the debate.  See the full video of the debate below:

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Framing Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate and the Unravelling Obama Foreign Policy

Bookmark and Share  To frame tonight’s final presidential debate, American Crossroads released a new video: “Not Optimal.”

The video juxtaposes President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 against the current unrest in the Middle East.

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“Smirk”: The Ad That Uses Obama’s Losing Smile

  Bookmark and Share In the wake of President Obama’s astonishingly poor debate performance, the Republican National Committee has quite appropriately taken the opportunity to use a split screen video that highlights some of Mitt Romney’s sharpest exchanges during the debate with clips of President Obama reacting with a very telling and uncomfortable smirk. (See the video below this post)

Throughout the debate, Mitt Romney seemed to often school the President on everything from taxes and the economy, to healthcare and the constitution.  And as Romney confidently but politely rattled off what were embarrassing facts and figures for the President to hear, the President spent most of his time fidgeting as he looked down with a silly grin that gave away just how uncomfortable he was with his failed policies.

The R.N.C. used these images to drive the President’s failures home and they did so in a way that allowed Romney to appear to be in total control with a superior command of the issues and level of confidence that President Obama failed to demonstrate throughout the debate.

The ad successfully portrays President Obama as being helpless and unable to defend his record, which up to now, he has done his best to distract voters from.


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Three Presidential Debates and One Vice Presidential Debate Are Set for 2012

 Bookmark and Share  The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), has today announced the schedule, formats, and locations of the public debates that will pit the presidential and vice presidential candidates against one another in the 2012 election.

According to CPD co-chairmen Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry, there will be three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate and each will last 90 minutes and begin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.   They will be moderated by a single individual and while each debate will not allow opening statements by the candidates, they will feature two-minute closing statements.

The schedule is as follows:

The first presidential debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator and announced several weeks before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.

The first and only Vice Presidential debate which will take place in Danville, Kentucky’s Center University will discuss both foreign and domestic topics and be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.

The second presidential debate will differ from the other two by featuring a town hall format that will have questions on both foreign and domestic policy, asked by undecided voters who are selected by the Gallup Organization.  In this forum, the presidential candidates will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion.

The final presidential debate will be dedicated to foreign policy and it’s format will be identical to that of the first debate.

As for additional details, the CPD has recommended that the candidates be seated at a table with the moderator in each of the debate except for the town hall style forum at Hofstra University.  As for the all important question of who the moderators will be, the CPD states that those individuals “will be selected and announced in August.”

While politics has become more of a forum for soundbites than substance, these debates may provide voters with the opportunity to get at least a better understanding of the candidates that attend them.  While each presidential and vice presidential nominee will undoubtedly respond to questions with well tested phrases or points that are chock filled with well rehearsed statistics and jargon, these debates will most likely be more important for the opinions that voters establish based upon the rare, unscripted moments that these debates often offer.

Who can forget when in 1992, President George H.W. Bush looked at as his wrist watch and left the viewing audience with the impression that he was uninterested in the process.  In a campaign where his Democrat opponent was doing his best to paint Bush as out of touch, Bush’s little look at at his watch seemed to simply confirm the point.

Or how about the 1976 debate gaffe of incumbent President Gerald Ford who during a debate with Jimmy Carter, claimed “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” Taken back by the obviously false statement, he moderator, Max Frankel of the New York Times, incredulously responded , “I’m sorry, what? … Did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence in occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it’s a communist zone?”  The answer to that question should have been “No, I meant to suggest that the people of Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia may physically endure the heavy hand of Soviet intrusiveness, the Soviets have not won the hearts and minds of those people, freedom loving people who seek to themselves of Soviet interference. However; Ford refused to back down from his original statement, and insisted  that Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia were free from Soviet interference.

The results in that election were so close, that many have logically concluded that Ford’s debate gaffe about Soviet domination probably cost him the win.

In 2012, these debates could make or break the election for one candidate or the other, especially since the extreme political polarization that exists in most states will allow a handful of voters in approximately 6 states to probably determine who will win.  That means that the wrong move or the slightest slip of the tongue in these debates could easily change the course of history.

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Tonight’s Republican Presidential Debate: What Each Candidate Needs to Do to Seal the Deal

Bookmark and Share   Tonight’s Fox News Republican presidential debate in Iowa is going to be the most watched of all the debates that have been held up to this point in the 2012 election cycle.  With its timing making it the last debate before the  voting in Iowa begins, and the tightening of polls in the first caucus state, it could prove to be a pivotal lasting impression that will significantly influence many Iowa voter’s final decision.

So what do the candidates have to achieve in order to make this debate count?

First, they must avoid any gaffes.  There can be no forgetting of their domestic priorities or any carefree gambling away of tens of thousands of dollars.   Such embarrassing missteps and lapses in judgement must be avoided as best as possible.  While the candidates may only be human, voters hold their political candidates up to a standard that most mere mortals can not withstand.  American voters may forgive an American Idol contestant for hitting a wrong note and call in to vote for them twice to make sure they appear on the next episode, but when a politician hits a sour note, there is little if any mercy shown.  And a misstep in this debate will be rebroadcast between now and New Hampshire more times than the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story is re-aired between now and the new year.

Beyond that each of the candidates need to achieve different things in this debate:

Mitt Romney:

Romney needs to convince voters that he is conservative, gets things done, and in addition to proving that he is the most electable candidate to run against Barack Obama, he must also provide that special moment which gives Republicans good reason to want him to be the most electable candidate.  And he must do so in a way that is believable and seemingly natural.  Romney needs his Reagan moment.  The type of moment that had people saying “Go get ’em”, when in a 1980 debate, a moderator asked that Ronald Reagan’s microphone be turned off, and with a terse turn of his head and a glaring look of disgust in his eyes, Reagan stared directly at the moderator and angrily declared “I am paying for this microphone” .  Romney needs to pay someone ten grand to have someone set up a moment like that for him.

Newt Gingrich:

Newt must win people over with his ability to not only demonstrate that he knows how to apply conservative principles to government, he must again show that in addition to being  better at articulating the conservative cause and message than any other candidate on the stage, he is also far more electable than anyone expected he could be. Newt needs to publicly point out to his rivals, that despite the darts and arrows they have been throwing at him, he is still standing and that is in part due to his strategy to run a campaign of substance, on the issues, not on the flaws of his opponents.  Newt needs to stand up and say, “I have taken the fire you have all thrown at me and I will withstand the fire that President Obama will throw at me because I will continue to run a campaign on issues, ideas, and solutions, and the people will not fall for President Obama’s tactics of political distraction and personal destruction”. 

Ron Paul:

Ron Paul may not need to do anything much differently than he already has.  An apparently divided Republican base is giving him the chance to actually win Iowa, something which is now very possible.  But such a win may not help Ron Paul very much beyond Iowa.  Look at where it got Mike Huckabee in 2008.  But if Ron Paul wants to try to win Iowa and become a viable candidate beyond the Hawkeye State, he needs to appear, sound, and act presidential.  I am not suggesting that he drop his hadrcore conviction to isolationist policies and lack of drive for a decent national defense.  However I am suggesting that many voters may take him more seriously, even as a candidate to cast a protest vote for, if he acted more like a President than the crazy old man throwing stones at the neighbor’s cat to chase it away from his tomato plants.

Rick Perry:

This is a tough one.  At this point, Perry needs to build himself up and knock down Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich all at the same time.  He must also shine in a way that makes people believe he can hold his own against Barack Obama.  The best way for him to do that is to be as natural and confident as he is in numerous, scripted, 30 second ads and eloquently contrast the conservative failings of the two frontrunners with his record in Texas. “You guys want to talk about creating jobs?  Then let’s do that.  How many Americans lost their jobs when you and your investors got filthy rich while hurting ordinary workers by buying companies, jacking up their profits at the expense of workers and then reselling them, Mitt?  And Newt, how many jobs were created when your government shutdowns in the 90’s as Speaker of the House cost Americans over $1.6 trillion?  I am the only one on this stage who has actually shaped a government environment that has allowed businesses to flourish and for the free market to create jobs.  I am the only one on this stage who has actually limited government’s involvement in people’s lives and that’s a message that I can take to the American people as they compare my record to President Obama’s record”.  Statements similar to that in nature, may not make Perry the winner of the Iowa caucuses but they will help keep him in the race and give him the chance to reshape his image as the long campaign continues.

Michele Bachmann & Rick Santorum:

While all the candidates are trying to speak to the large evangelical vote in Iowa, these two need to aim their words far more directly at them than all their rivals.  If they intend to see their campaigns survive past New Hampshire, both Bachmann and Santorum need to surprise the political world with a Huckabee-like finish in the caucuses that is hammered together by a coalescing of evangelical voters behind them. Both of them must convincingly argue that they are consistent in their beliefs and their politics and that they are both reform minded conservatives who can defeat President Obama.  The problem is that Santorum and Bachmann are seemingly cancelling one another out.  So one of them must try to somehow land a knockout punch on the other.  The one who can take the other out in this debate, will make themselves quite competitive in the remaining weeks of the Iowa caucus campaign and will have the best shot of seeing their campaign last until at least South Carolina.  Consider Bachmann and Santorum as having to use this as a debate within a debate to win the caucus within the caucus.

Jon Huntsman:

Huntsman has written off every early primary state except for New Hampshire.  While Giuliani pinned his presidential hopes on Florida in 2008, in 2012, Huntsman is pinning all his on New Hampshire.  More specifically, he is pinning his hopes on beating Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.  Given that strategy, Huntsman is the only candidate on the stage who can afford to ignore Iowa voters and instead address New Hampshire voters.  That means Huntsman has to paint himself as a John McCain type of maverick, who is willing to go against the grain of his own Party and be the consistent conservative that mainstream Republican politicians are not.  Like Rick Perry, Huntsman must try to give answers that all lead back to his conservative management of Utah when he was Governor.  All of that is going to be a hard sell, but that is the only way he can go now that his campaign bought a one way ticket to New Hampshire.

flagline.jpg line image by truckthis

The  debate will be held at the Sioux City Convention Center Today, Thursday, December 15th from 9:00-11:00 PM/ET, in conjunction with the Iowa Republican Party.

It will be moderated by Special Report anchor Bret Baier on FOX News Channel (FNC) and live-streamed on YouTube.com/FOXNews, in addition to FOX News Radio, FOX News Mobile, and FOXNews.com.

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Did Rick Perry Threaten Ron Paul During the Presidential Debate?

Bookmark and Share  While most of the on air sparring in last night’s Republican presidential debate took place between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, apparently there was a little brouhaha during one of the station breaks. 

As captured in the photo shown here, it was during one of these breaks that Governor Perry strode up to Ron Paul, grabbed Paul’s wrist and raised his other hand to point a finger in Paul’s face in an attempt to make a point to the Congressman.

According to RonPaul.com, here’s how it went down:

“During a commercial break at Wednesday’s Republican debate, Rick Perry and Ron Paul continued their spirited exchange on stage. Suddenly, Perry grabbed Ron Paul’s forearm while aggressively pointing his index finger towards the Congressman’s face. Alerted by Perry’s menacing gestures, Ron Paul’s bodyguard (front left) was standing by, ready to protect the Congressman.”

What exactly was said is unknown but that won’t prevent Pauliacs from trying to use the image against their feeble three time presidential candidate.  So far they are on a campaign to try and claim that Perry was threatening and intimidating Paul. 

If the photo is capturing a truly heated exchange you can rest assured that Governor  Perry most likely urged Ron Paul  to stop the blatant lies Paul’s campaign has been promulgating about Perry, including the one about Perry having been a national chairman for Al Gore.

In past debates, live streams allowed internet users to catch glimpses of the candidates and how they were interacting during commercial breaks but MSNBC’s live stream of last night’s debate did not offer such an opportunity as they simply cut the  feed during commercials.  Had they not, we might have at  least seen the Perry-Paul exchange.

So far, there is no official comment from either Paul or Perry regarding what the exchange consisted of, but that has not stopped Ron Paul fanatics from trying to lift their messiah ever higher by alleging Rick Perry assaulted their guy. 

Until it is known exactly what was said, drawing conclusions is futile, but in the end, it my be in the best interest of Ron Paul that Rick Perry’s words remain unknown because if I know Rick Perry, his words probably did not provide for the type of praise that Ron Paul  would want to duplicate in an ad promoting his candidacy. And it will probably make many Paulbots look truly stupid for their exaggerations and lies.

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Update:  The truth comes out and the Ron Paul crowd does indeed look stupid.  See the conclusion here.

The Third Major Republican Presidential Debate Starts Setting the Tone for 2012

Bookmark and Share    Watch the entire debate below this post.

 

 Last night’s presidential debate was the first one of the 2012 campaign to actually began to shape opinions and sway voters.  While most voters have not yet placed their bets, the exchanges that took place on a stage in the Air Force One wing of the Reagan Library finally began to provide voters with a true sense of the candidates, their styles, their records, and their vision.  While the program did tend to be dominated by a Perry versus Romney narrative.   The other six did get brief opportunities to shine, but few did so in any signficant way.
 
 While I will leave an in-depth analysis of the debate to other White House 2012 posts entitled “A Two Horse Race” and “Quick Debate Recap“, I will offer a few points of my own about moments in the debate that I believe were quite notable.

NBC debate moderator could not help but begin the program by entering into a statement that suggested Americans blame conservative policies for all the economic problems we are experiencing and insinuated that at the same time, most Americans do not believe President Obama’s policies are as liberal as they should be.   Not only is this incorrect, it was also another subtle but blatant editorial opinion being interjected into a conversation by a member of the lamestream media who is suppose to be impartial and non-partisan. 

Another very memorable moment in the debate can be seen about 26 minutes into the  video of  debate that is proveded  below this post.

As Politico’s John  Harris pursued a line of questioning designed to inflame an internecine ideological debate over healthcare, he through the floor open to Newt Gingrich and said;

“Well I’m frankly not interested in your efforts to get Republicans to fight against eachother…….You’d like to puff this up into some giant thing.  The fact here is that every single person up here understands Obamacare is a disaster.  It is a disaster procedural, it was rammed through after they lost Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, it was written badly, it was never reconciled, it can’t be implemented, it is killing this economy.  And if this President has a concern for working Americans, he’d walk in Thursday night and ask to repeal it because its a monstrosity.  Every person up here agrees with that!”……….

At that point the audience broke out into one of the largest round of applauds of the night and once the clapping died down Newt went on to say……….

” And let me just say…since I still have a little time left……….let me just say, I for one….and I hope all of my friends up here —- Are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated, and all of us are committed as a team……. Whoever the nominee is we are all committed to defeating Barack Obama”

To which the audience again broke out into another round of applause but this was even louder than the last.

It was probably one of the best statements of the night and the most real display of anger offered by any of the candidates on the stage last night.  However, it was not enough to propel Newt into the race as an immediate threat to anyone in the front of the field that he trails.  But it did renew my appreciation for Gingrich and made me realize that when the election is over, he might just be perfect as the Republican national Committee Chairman or the new President’s Press Secretary. 

 Beyond that, I again suggest that you see theexcellent analyses provided in the two White House 2012 links above and also that you see the debate by clicking on the link below.  It is a good oner that should not be missed.

Click here to see the complete debate

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