Debate Finale: Romney Agrees with Obama, Says Give Peace a Chance

Romney didn't draw a clear policy contrast but sounded like a plausible Commander in Chief. And he avoided the Dick Cheney Halloween mask that Obama wants to pull over his face

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Michael Reynolds - Pool / Getty Images

President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS looks on at the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22, 2012.

The trajectory of the U.S. presidential race did not change Monday night. Not substantively, in a debate that featured Mitt Romney’s constant endorsements of Barack Obama’s policies. (For instance, on the question of aggressive drone strikes against suspected terrorists: “I support that entirely and feel the President was right.”) And probably not politically, given that foreign policy is a low priority for most voters and that the debate lacked a breakthrough moment that will hound one candidate or the other for days.

Whether tonight has some marginal difference depends on what you think matters. Republicans argue, not implausibly, that Romney’s goal was to sound presidential, versed in the issues and worthy of being trusted with the nuclear football. Unstated, but obvious from Romney’s almost John Lennon–like performance, was his goal of refuting Obama’s charge that he wants to start new wars and extend existing ones. Doing so — on Iran, Afghanistan and Syria — forced Romney into constant agreement with Obama. But it also enabled him to dodge the Dick Cheney Halloween mask that Obama would love to pull over his face. “We don’t want another Iraq. We don’t want another Afghanistan,” Romney said.

Romney may have passed that test, but he failed to indict Obama’s policies or draw a clear contrast with his own. One reason was that Obama enjoyed a structural advantage and used it well. He invoked his almost mystical power as Commander in Chief — a rhetorical shortcut to credibility on the military, terrorism and dramatic calls like the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. Romney lacked any counter with remotely the same punch.

Stylistically, Obama was also more often on the offensive — even if he sometimes seemed to find his own zingers a mite cheesy. (“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” a quip in response to Romney’s view that Russia is our top geopolitical rival, sounded like a tossed-off tweet and Obama knew it. Russia, incidentally, really does cause us a lot of problems, mostly through its U.N. Security Council veto power.)

(PhotosPolitical Photos of the Week, Oct. 12-18)

Huge swaths of ground went mostly or entirely uncovered: the nature of the new Iraq. The wisdom of cutting a peace deal with the Taliban. Nuclear nonproliferation. Africa, Europe, Latin America. Torture, detention, surveillance, cybersecurity. Tellingly, the candidates repeatedly veered into the thick of domestic politics and the economy — a sign that both campaigns understand foreign policy won’t decide this election. At one point it seemed possible that Obama was going to trumpet Lilly Ledbetter, while Romney at one point declared, “I love teachers!” And a question on China revolved around not Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia, or Beijing’s dispute with Tokyo over a string of oil-rich islands, but trade law and the auto bailout (on which Mark Halperin is right to call Romney’s answer “rambling, confusing, defensive.”) Translation: a duel for voters in all-important Ohio. The world will have to wait on Cuyahoga County.

MORE: Mark Halperin: Grading the Battle in Boca

62 comments
TerryClifton
TerryClifton

The only thing I wish Romney would have said different is that if he orders a drone strike,  he will actually kill terrorists and not women and children, and then try to cover it up like Obama and Petraeus did in Pakistan and Yemen. Obama lied so many times, even Bob Woodard had to come out and correct him. Apparently Obama either doesn't know whats going in his own cabinet dealing with the sequestration issue or he's lying again, because it came from his people and not Congress. Now there's also the lie about Romney's Op-Ed in the New York Times about the bailout of GM, either Obama doesn't read much or he's lying again. Which brings me to his snarky little comment about the size of our military and the uses of horses and bayonets. Both are being used in Afghanistan on the daily, and our Naval Fleet is full of Korean/Vietnam Era ships that need to be replaced with new and more advanced ships. We have more than just aircraft carriers and submarines in our fleet, Mr. President. I know this because I was on 3 ships during my time in the Marine Corps, and they broke down all the time. As far as Romney agreeing with Obama on Syria, it's the smart play for both of them, I would have reminded the country  how Hillary was rebuffed by Russia and China pursuing tougher sanctions on Assad, and they muscled their way to loosening most if not all of them at the UN. Same thing with the Iranian Nuclear issue, both Romney and Obama want to protect Israel, and I would believe that Romney more so than Obama because of the mixed signals and statements coming out of Obama's own mouth in regard to our strained relationship with Netanyhu. One last thing, I'm very disappointed in Romney for letting the last debate go into annuals of history without calling Obama out for Fast and Furious, I believe this could have been the death nail in Obama's coffin even more so than Libya, because after all the ATF, the Justice Department, and Obama became de-facto gun smugglers into Mexico, and handed over 2,000 assault weapons to the most dangerous group in the world, The Sinola Drug Cartel. They are responsible for more killings, be-headings, and massacres than The Taliban and Al Qaeda combined. Over 45,000 people including Americans have died at the hands of the cartels, and our government gave them the weapons so they could be trace to actual murders. Are you listening!!!!!!!!  Our government wanted the guns to kill actual people, so somehow in Holder's and Obama sick, twisted fantasy;  they would eventually  be brought to "justice" for murder in which the federal government helped them commit in the first place. We put the guns in the hands of the murderer's and then we bring them to trial for murder, yeah, that makes perfect sense. All of this was done, by direction of Obama and Eric Holder, because they needed something concrete to use in banning assault weapons. Now Obama has sealed shut all the documents on Fast and Furious from the White House, and also the Brian Terry investigation. My one hope is after Romney wins, The Congress can get their hands on all those records, and then issue arrest warrants for Obama, Holder, and every one involved in the senseless killings traced back to those guns found at murder scenes in Mexico, and also for the ones yet found, starting with the massacre that took the lives of 16 teenagers in one shooting. As of today, not one person in the Obama/Justice Department has answered for these crimes, not one. Those in charge of the operation that has lead to the deaths of over 200 known victims have been promoted. These victims deserve justice, and I hope they get it, because they died as pawns in yet another veiled misguided attempt to take away our 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms. Now I know liberals live on soundbites and funny little quips, but it's the substance that matters and it eludes them, sadly.

jilli.brown
jilli.brown

"Romney didn’t draw a clear policy contrast but sounded like a plausible Commander in Chief."

Seriously?  Were you judging by the palin standards?  As long as he gets up on the stage without throwing up, that's enough?

Good lord, seriously?

TrentBlackwell
TrentBlackwell

UNINSTALLING OBAMA.....……………. █████████████▒▒▒ 80% complete.

SherrySmith
SherrySmith

Mr Crowley

Women do not like condescending men.  We do not like to be interrupted in mid-sentence so you can enjoy a laugh at our expense with one of your "zingers".  These have been Obama's tactics during the last two debates.  He most certainly did not win any new voters over as a result.  

In fact, I would offer he has sealed his fate for defeat on November 6th because of his "style".  Michelle may allow him to quibble over minute little overtures of sarcasm, but most women will find it to be very offensive.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

The takeaway from last night's debate:  Mitt Romney has no real substance to him and will change everything he believes in at the drop of a hat.  We've all known this for years now but the stark contrast between last night's debate and the second debate made it all the more apparent to independent and undecided voters that have seen both debates.  Not his strongest moment to be sure, and he needed one.

gysgt213
gysgt213

"The trajectory of the U.S. presidential race did not change Monday night. Not substantively, in a debate that featured Mitt Romney’s constant endorsements of Barack Obama’s policies."

If Romney's complete endorsement of Obama's policies and complete rejection of his own advisors' positions is not a trajectory change on some level than what is?.

And the below is a pretty low bar to set.  But this is where we are. Can the guy on your TV screen appear to be presidential.  I won't mention that Martin Sheen, Bill Pullman, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Michael Keaton just to name a few have all clear this bar in one movie or another.

.

"Republicans argue, not implausibly, that Romney’s goal was to sound presidential, versed in the issues and worthy of being trusted with the nuclear football."

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

Romney came into the debate, ready to repudiate every position he has held up to this point and Obama came to the debate armed with a laundry list of the positions Romney was prepared to deny. The fact that this isn't the number one takeaway is a symptom of the press's disinterest in calling out lies. Mitt's inconsistency is now 'background' and hence no longer news.

Sad............

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Watching the debate it was painfully obvious that Romney has no idea on foreign policy since all he would do was to continue what Obama is already doing. At least he had the common sense to stay away from Benghazi since it will shortly become an Albatross hanging around the neck of several Republican Congressmen

MrObvious
MrObvious

I listened to the media punditry afterwards and what struck me was how the substance of another one of Mitts 'trust me - I'm not what I used to be' was so easy for media to overlook.

That this kind of flip flopping that media nailed Kerry with was suddenly 'a smart campaign strategy' and that it 'made him look presidential in the eyes of independent'.

So what does he stand for?

Who knows - media don't care and apparently anyone voting for him doesn't.

SammyH
SammyH

Romney wins. "You can't kill your way out of this."

Obama went into the debate trying to make Romney look like a war-monger, and came out the other side with the "neocon" label firmly attached to himself instead. How about some more chest-thumping, Mr. President...

outsider
outsider

@jilli.brown honestly Mike, I've no idea why you don't interact with us..

Though the Palin standard was a good line..

Pollopa
Pollopa

Command not recognized.

Please reset for 2016 and try again.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@SherrySmith Rusty, Do you wear a dress when you write your Sherry Smith comments?

Sue_N
Sue_N

@SherrySmith You know what else women don't like, Sherry? A candidate who seems more intent on promoting gender equality in the Middle East than here at home and who won't even say whether he supports equal pay.

Women don't like a man who believes their reproductive choices should be left to other men.

Women don't like men who lie like cheap rugs and can't hold a solid position to save his life.

Women don't like men who won't go to war or send their sons but have absolutely no problem sending other people's sons and daughters.

Women don't like men who believe single mothers are the cause of gun violence in this country, or who believe women working minimum wage jobs and make too little to pay income taxes are hopeless losers.

Women don't like men who want to take heath insurance away from their children.

Women don't like men who throw them or their husbands out of work so they can make a fortune by raiding a company and shipping jobs off to China.

Women also really, really don't like some poser coming in and whining and moaning about how "offensive" Obama was when she thought it was oh so cool, presidential and manly when Willard did it.

So put on your big girl panties and deal.

Pollopa
Pollopa

Seems you have one on me being a woman, but I have a grandmother, mother, wife and daughter who all disagree with you.  They fouind Obama to be strong, concise, clearly communicating America's role in the world.  They liked his CIC decision making of the past that was brought up,. They liked the discussion on the economy and how Obama has saved thousands of middle class manufacturig jobs. They liked his discussion on how he went to visit the troops first and then Isreal during his campaign. I could go on since we talked for quite awhile about this debate. I think you get the picture that you don't speak for all women.

If women choose because of the pettiness that you demonstrate here, then women are not as strong as the women in my family. Women who clearly saw a President that desrves another 4 years to complete the turn around of America from the years in which the republicans destroyed our economy and our stance in the world. Women who also know their rights are at peril and our kids educational opportunities on the line. The women who can think for themselves, for what is better for their families and themselves, are voting for Obama. I'm joining them.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@SherrySmith Women also don't like rude rich guys trying to bully moderators, which is exactly what Mittens did in every one of his debates

MrObvious
MrObvious

@SherrySmith So you didn't like Romney in the first debate then?

Or the second?

Or when Romney railroaded the moderator and went back to an old question?

So basically you don't like when Obama does it, but ignores it when Romney does it.

Personally I find style unimportant and substance everything. And who knows with Mitt. He have taken every single position for or against something and it's clear that righties don't care as long as he wins.

cin_oh_cin
cin_oh_cin

@SherrySmith You know what else women don't like? Other women acting like experts on how all women think. Talk about condescending.

jilli.brown
jilli.brown

@DonQuixotic   I agree Don.  I think romneys performance was really pathetic.  First the optics of him were horrible - he was sweating like richard nixon in the kennedy debate.  He was clearly uncomfortable - definitely not projecting the image of a strong, confident man, much less a competent presidential candidate.

The commentary was even worse.  He displayed a Palinesque level of comprehension of the issues.

Maybe it was flop sweat dripping off him, but I think a large portion of what we saw was cynicism.  Just last week he was railing against virtually every aspect of obama foreign policy - yet last night, he agreed with virtually everything.  Such a cynically blatant turn around was disingenuous and insulting to the intelligence of every American.

Putting our foreign policy in the hands of of man like romney would be a national disaster - one we've seen before with the previous admin.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@gysgt213 I'm still trying to figure out how "forget everything I've said over the past year, now I completely agree with this guy" sounds remotely presidential.

The neocons have got to be furious, because last night he completely disavowed everything they stand for. Willard's gonna have some serious sucking up to do.

reflectionephemeral
reflectionephemeral

@gysgt213 There isn't much difference between political commentary and movie reviewing, is there? "How do they look on TV" is more or less the sum total of this commentary. Given, though, that the reason we care about the government is because it implements policies that affect people's lives, we should be concerned that Gov. Romney either has no policy views, or has no compunction about changing his tone and substance by the hour depending on what he thinks the person standing in front of him wants to hear. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@PaulDirks This is what infuriates me. Our media gods are talking about "style" and "substance" … and no one is pointing out that Willard is lying, flipping, flopping and pivoting so much that he's become a human wind turbine.

The man is a serial liar, and our media refuses to point that out.

Oh, no, It's far more important that he looked presidential, whatever the hell that means. Our media sucks, and every time one of them sneers at "low information" or "undecided" voters, they ought to be jabbed with a pin because it's their own damned fault.

kellylongjackson3
kellylongjackson3

@mantisdragon91 Agreed. Romney has no ideas. Its one thing to attack an incumbent for "failure" and pick apart all that he has done - but then you have to say WHAT you would do differently. Romney can't do that. Again, Romney has no ideas. And if elected, he will have to rely on the same advisors that Bush got stuck with. We know how well that worked out before, right? 

jilli.brown
jilli.brown

@SammyH   Romney came into the debate prepared to morph into a complete fraud.  He has no core - he is unprincipled.  The only thing that matters is winning.  I'm hoping the electorate has higher standards.

cin_oh_cin
cin_oh_cin

@SammyH Except that later Romney said he would go after the bad guys and kill them. pffft.

He said everything Obama said, but because he was whiter and richer, it just sounded better to some people.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Romney lies. Since this is the exact strategy pursued in the past by John Bolton and Dan Senor his primary advisers on Foreign Policy.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@SammyH 

Mitt came to the debate as a warmonger ready to start a trade war with China and then pretended that he never meant anything that he said previously.

The 180 degree man.

TerryClifton
TerryClifton

@Pollopa 

 I guess the fact that more women live in poverty under Obama is lost upon you, and how that Obama had 2 years of total control in Washington, and did nothing but spend all his energy on Obamacare and bailing out his friends in the banking industry. How his wife lives the life of a queen, traveling all over the world at the taxpayers expense, and wearing a  2-3,000.00 dollar bracelets while shopping at Target. Meanwhile their net worth goes from 3 million to over 10 million in less than 3 years, while in the White House. I bet you didn't know that Obama's retirement and pension is larger than Mitt Romney's, and Obama has never even ran the counter at a local McDonald's more less created a business or 1 job for that matter . How Mrs. Obama thinks she knows what your kids should eat for lunch, and what you think really doesn't matter. Women's rights are at peril? Really, how so? No one is talking about ending the practice of abortion, not even partial birth abortion is being brought up by anyone, except by people like you who repeat the same lies as you are being told. The Obama's don't think you know what's good for your family, and that you and everyone else in this country isn't smart enough to make decisions for yourselves, that's why they want to impose the federal government's will in education, healthcare, and every other aspect of your life? Do you even know the perimeters and  requirements of Obama's Race to the Top Education Plan? When is the last time you have even spoken to a teacher? Did you know that education is now a strict test based classroom environment? That's right, teachers are being told to create lesson plans around one test, and to stay on task or risk losing their career, and also their jobs are based upon test scores.After all when ranchers want to fatten up cattle before taking them to market, they just keep weighing them until they make the cut. Schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars to help their students pass one test. Did you even know or care that thousands of great teachers are leaving the profession they love,  because of the shear stupidity of this obscene shift in public education? We have more people on welfare and disability under Obama than ever before. People have found the idea of work to be very dangerous, and so the people on the dole have doubled. I'm sure you have been invited to one of the welfare parties that are all the rage around the country, it's where people are being encouraged by the welfare department to sign up  for any and all benefits, while you enjoy that taxpayer funded cupcake. Unemployment is still at 8%, and it's not going down. Yeah, that's much better than we were 4 years ago..Funny how a lie can grow and grow isn't it? How much was gas again 4 years ago? How about a dozen of eggs? How about a pound of hamburger? In your world, every thing is better, much better, right? How much debt are you comfortable leaving your grandchildren, or better yet, ask your mother and grandmother how much debt they think their grandchildren can bear in the future, because their grand children won't have the benefits of Medicare/Social Security as they now enjoy as the laziest and fattest generation of our our country's history, but they sure will be paying for those IOU's that's coming due. If Obama is reelected the federal debt is projected to be over 20 trillion dollars, and that's if he doesn't sign another trillion dollar stimulus, because we all know how great the last one worked out..No jobs, no revenue back to the government, fraud, waste, and enough cronyism to fill the courts for the next 10 years, at least the lawyers are getting paid. 4 more years of Obama, and we will all know what it feels like to be Greek, as the weight of our debt crushes us alive.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@mantisdragon91 @SherrySmith 

I found this to be legitimately rude.  I expect, nay demand, the candidates be aggressive with each other. It's a debate--actually debate each other! But every time Mitt quibbled with a mod about it being his turn, or him being entitled to an extra response or something, he really came across as petty and pedantic.  

 I find this whole "women don't like verbal aggressiveness" meme being peddled about to be highly derogatory and offensive.  Such delicate flowers we all must be!    

TyPollard
TyPollard

@Sue_N @gysgt213 The right only cares about winning. They live in a black and white world and Obama is black.

SammyH
SammyH

Gitmo is still open. Indefinite detention is still in practice. Bush's Bernanke is still Fed chairman. Obama's promise of "Change" gets an F.

SammyH
SammyH

@MrObvious

Romney has been consistent. Obama is the one who ran 4 years ago on cutting the deficit in half and then doubling it instead. He's the one who ran on fixing Washington and then acting as the most partisan president of the modern era. He promised responsibility as a candidate, and then drove up the national debt with reckless abandon as president.

Obama's record as president is 180 degrees from his broken promises as an untested candidate.

outsider
outsider

It is all rusty, Al. You are not crazy.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@outsider2011 @Pollopa  

Does he have split personality?  Because LL is alive and well on other threads right now, and I'm pretty sure that's Rusty.

Just trying to keep up.  ;)

Sue_N
Sue_N

@TyPollard @Sue_N @gysgt213 Oh, I know. And that's just another sign that the GOPers aren't serious about governing, only about power. Willard has pivoted away from neocon and bagger positions so often that he ought to permanently wear a neck brace, has disavowed every position his base holds so dear … and still they are determined to get him into office and Obama out.

They don't actually care who's in office, so long as he's got that R after his name. That he's white is just a bonus. I do actually believe they'd bite their tongues and support a black candidate if they thought they could control him, though they'd go home every night and chew through the furniture. (And they'd have to do some serious message control in the South.)

That there's a Democrat in the White House is bad enough to them. That he's a black Democrat just adds insult to injury.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@SammyH And if you think Willard is going to close Gitmo or revoke indefinite detention, you know absolutely nothing about him or the party he represents (when he's not pivoting away from those positions).

Obama tried to close Gitmo and the GOPers fought him, leveling charges about "turning terrorists loose" and raising the spectre of "terrorists in our back yards." Once again they played the fear card, and the American people bought into it. So we're probably stuck with Gitmo for life.

As for Bernanke, yeah, he's still there. But we need somebody at the helm of the Fed, and it's not like the GOPers are falling over themselves approving Obama appointees.

If you have a problem with the policies and promises Obama hasn't been able to fulfill, then you have a problem with the Republican Party and its policy of unyielding obstructionism.

NP042
NP042

@mantisdragon91 Never mind getting a new chairman approved based on the stalling of every other Obama appointee.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Gitmo is open because of opposition from the Republicans in the House and Senate. Bernanke is still Fed Chairman because it would have been disastrous to reverse Fed policies in the midst of the worst Fiscal disaster since the 30's

jilli.brown
jilli.brown

Sammy, do you even know what the word "consistent" means?

Last week Romney was on the trail criticizing virtually all of Obama's foreign policy - last night he agreed with every bit of it.  It doesn't bother you that he's playing you for a stooge?

Robbert5
Robbert5

The deficit isn't doubled and you know that little thing that happened in the meantime, recession, was a lot worse than anyone, even the GOP economists thought was possible.  If the hole all of a sudden is left a lot deeper than it will take a lot more to get out of.  But thanks for playing

MrObvious
MrObvious

@SammyH

How have Romney been consistent? One day he's this and another day he's that?

Regardless of what you might think Obama is, there's nothing consistent about anything Romney says.