Being a conservative it is sort of like being in a pride of cats: impossible to herd, individuality trends strongly, and many seek to mark their territory.
So, unlike the win-at-all-costs Progressive mouth-breathers like Wasserman-Schultz and Axelrod, it is somewhat remarkable when conservatives have similar opinions.
[update a few hours later]
“I think Mitt Romney did something very important to his campaign tonight,” former presidential adviser David Gergen told CNN. “He passed the commander-in-chief test.”
Newsmax contributor, foreign-policy expert, and Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller concurred.
“What would have killed him was a Gaff-gate,” she said of Romney. “One mistake, one Gerald Ford moment of Poland not being in the Warsaw Pact. And he was not about to let that happen.”
Miller was struck by the degree of consensus between the two leaders on a wide range of foreign policy issues. She said that by taking that approach, Romney “reassured people who fear a return to a more aggressive path. People are sick of war, and I think he did that. He reassured people that he is as steady in foreign policy as he did in domestic policy. I think he passed that test.”
Similarly, Fox News commentator and Newsmax contributor Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster, told Newsmax shortly after the debate that Romney succeeded in demonstrating he is presidential “and on an equal footing with President Obama” in the foreign-policy arena.
It’s saddening to have been right, when I wrote that Obama would bring the snark. He did. Not very often, but when he did he came across as small and mean. That was the Obama we saw in Denver. At his best, he came across as the commander-in-damn-chief, which is exactly what he is. But most of those flashes came in the first 30 minutes.
That, I think, is as fine a coda for this debate, for this series of debates, as I can muster. Obama has run far and fast from his own record. Romney, I’m sorry to say, hasn’t always hit him for that as much or as strongly as I think he should have.
But is Romney credible?
Yes. Romney is credible. Perfect? No. Credible, yes.
And that’s a win tonight.
Final Score: 114-113 for Romney. Romney won a narrow victory tonight, against an aggressive opponent, a time disadvantage, and a moderator with a thumb on the scales. He could have attacked Obama on Libya, but did not, and chose his areas of disagreement very carefully. Obama did not waste an opportunity to attack his opponent–and that was to his detriment, because it took him away from the task of outlining a clear agenda for the next four years beyond “nation-building.” Romney did what he came to do, which was to look stable and presidential. Obama failed to disqualify–or defeat–his opponent.
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.
Mitt Romney is more than holding his own with Barack Obama tonight. Only two other challengers have done as well debating foreign policy with an incumbent president—Ronald Reagan against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and, to a lesser degree, Bill Clinton against George H.W. Bush in 1992. Reagan and Clinton won. Romney is now on track to becoming the third challenger to win in the last 32 years—and the first in 80 years to defeat an incumbent who didn’t have a primary challenge. Tonight, Romney seems as fully capable as—probably more capable than—Barack Obama of being the next president. He probably will be.
Score this debate a win on energy for Obama, but a win on the facts and the long game for Romney. Moderator Bob Schieffer was probably the best of the three presidential moderators. Both candidates got roughly the same amount of talk time, neither got the patented false Candy Crowley fact check.
Mitt Romney accomplished what he set out to do tonight. He went toe-to-toe with the sitting, snarking president three times and acquitted himself well enough to have the majority of Americans see him as the next President of the United States.
There were two debates tonight. Officially, it was a foreign-policy debate, and I think Mr Obama won it, narrowly, neither ceding the incumbent’s natural advantage nor gaining any real ground. Mr Romney, I think, won the impromptu debate on the economy, narrowly, pressing the challengers’ advantage by reminding voters that they’ve suffered economically during Mr Obama’s tenure while striking an appealing hopeful note and again pitching himself as a guy who knows how to clean up a mess. Add it all up and I think we have a push. Both candidates seemed to behave as though Mr Romney had the momentum coming into the debate. If that’s so, I don’t think Mr Obama’s performance was quite strong enough to slow Mr Romney down.
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.
Bartelist Family members:
- “Romney didn’t lose the debate.”
- “President Obama, like, interrupts way too much. See?!? He did it again!”
So, depending on what one wanted to see tonight, the consensus is that Romney may have squeaked out a narrow victory – or he may have been narrowly defeated. But romney clearly looked more Presidential, and that may be important to the 2-3 still-undecided Americans in battleground states.
We’ll see how the polling shapes up in the next week.