Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Foreign Policy Debate

Here is a truth that neither candidate will ever tell you: President Obama's foreign policy is not very different from President Bush's and the foreign policy of President Romney would not be much different from either.

That's why last night's debate seemed so light weight. Romney only identified a few places that he would be different: Syria, Iran and Israel. In addition, he would not cut military spending.

But most people are not going to vote on a candidate because of his commitment to a foreign nation. Voters just want to be sure that the president knows what he is talking about. Romney spent a lot of time dropping names to show that he has become a foreign policy expert. That was his goal for the debate, to make himself seem credible, and he carried it off.

Obama's goal was to "win" the debate so he tossed off a few well-rehearsed zingers - "The 90s called. They want their foreign policy back." and the line about horses and bayonets. Neither line helped Obama. They seemed rude and juvenile, especially the part about "We have these things called air craft carriers and planes land on them." This was also an example of ducking the issue.

The election is mainly about the economy and domestic policy which is why the debate kept veering back to domestic policy.

While Obama may have scored more points, Romney probably won the real contest  - who comes across as being more presidential?

Another major change since the first debate is that the position of the two candidates has changed. At the first debate, Obama was the likely winner and Romney the challenger whose campaign was collapsing around him. A month later Romney is ahead and Obama is the challenger, trying to pull down Romney's lead. All that Romney had to do was keep from making a mistake that would cost him momentum. He succeeded since the Obama did not find any "Big Bird" moments.

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