The final Presidential debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, was held last night at Lynn University in Boca Rotan, Florida. The moderator for the debate was veteran newsman, Bob Schieffer. The topic of discussion was foreign policy, however much of the time was spent talking about economic issues. I thought Bob Schieffer's performance was closer to Jim Lehrer's in the first debate than it was to Candy Crowley's in the second. It was ironic that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy telling the American people that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba. Ironic because as Mitt Romney pointed out later in the debate, we now have a President who recently told the Russian President that he would have more flexibility after the election with regards to reducing our nuclear arsenal.
I thought Governor Romney was effective in prosecuting the foreign policy failures of President Obama, in sharp contrast to the sometimes delusional view that the President tried to advance. This delusion was highlighted by the President's refusal to use the term Islamic extremists, illustrating his inability to understand the nature of our enemy. He also advanced the narrative that Al Queda was far weaker and our relationships in the Middle East are far stronger today than when he took office. Mitt Romney refuted the President's assertions by illustrating just how much more dangerous and volatile the Middle East is since Mr. Obama's term began. The two candidates did agree on several topics including the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, sanctions on Iran (although Mitt Romney said they should be more sever) and the future departure of Bashar al-Assad as leader of Syria.
A highlight of the debate was when Mitt Romney correctly pointed out the weakness shown by the President to our enemies early in his term when he embarked on his apology tour. The President called reports of his apology tour a "Whopper" of a lie. The President also repeated the now thoroughly discredited lie that Governor Romney's tax cuts would cost 5 trillion dollars. Mitt Romney didn't defend himself adequately on that charge, but did effectively refute the President's charge that Mitt Romney wanted to let GM completely dissolve. Mitt Romeny scored further points when he pointed out that the President pulled missile defense from Poland, an ally, and didn't support the Green Revolution in Iran after their "elections" in 2009. Governor Romney also correctly pointed out that our Navy is the smallest it's been since 1917 and our Air Force is the smallest it's been since its founding. The President's reply to these facts was snarky and made him look petty and small. Mitt Romney successfully made the case for a strong U.S. military and an overall optimism which made the President's attempts to do the same look weak in comparison.
If there was one disappointment for me, it was that Mitt Romney didn't mention the security failures in Libya or the two weeks of administration lies that followed. Maybe his campaign made the political calculation to allow the Governor's surrogates and others in the media to push this issue, and allow Mr. Romney to stay above the fray and look more Presidential. Taking everything in total, Mitt Romney edged out the President in the debate and in doing so kept alive his recent momentum in the race. I'm sure those on the left and in the media will call the debate for President Obama, but as we saw with the last debate, media support for the President doesn't translate into any bounce in the polls.