As expected in the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney was in way over his head, as President Obama used his experience as Commander in Chief to lay waste to his Republican challenger.
The first segment was on the changing Middle East, and the first question was on Libya. Romney gave a rambling answer that blamed Obama for the problems in the Middle East. Romney said we need a comprehensive strategy against extremism, but he didn’t say what that strategy would be. Obama played Commander in Chief card, and talked about keeping America safe for four years and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama then turned to Libya, and highlighted his successes in the Middle East, and said Romney has been all over the map. Romney then told the president who got Bin Laden that he was going to go after the bad guys. (Romney was already in way over his head here.) Romney kept hammering North Mali being taken over by al-Qaeda, and Obama nailed Romney for finally recognizing al-Qaeda is big threat and called Romney’s foreign policy straight out of the 1980s. Obama rolled over him, and pointed out that Romney has been wrong on every foreign policy opinion that he has offered.
The president said the US needs strong steady leadership not reckless leadership in the Middle East. Romney claimed that everything he said about Russia and all of other foreign policy statements was inaccurate. Romney claimed Obama was wrong about his Russia comment, but then he promised to get tough on Putin.
Obama spent the first twenty minutes of the debate hammering away on Romney. The Republican nominee bumbled across the Middle East. Whether the question concerned Iraq, Libya, or Syria, Romney was full of bluster and babble. Romney found a brief escape by retreating into jabbering on about the economy while promising a strong military, and not to cut the budget. The debate then got way off course as both candidates started talking about domestic policy.
With Romney badly losing the debate, the Republican broke out all of the far right talking points about Obama being weak. Romney claimed that Obama wanted to sit down with China, N. Korea, Iran, and that the president apologized for America. Obama fired back by calling out Romney’s lie about the apology tour as not true. He then knocked down Romney’s tough talk on Iran by bringing up his investment with a Chinese oil company that was doing business with Iran.
Romney responded by going to back to the apology tour. Obama swung back by pointing out that as a candidate, when he visited foreign nations, he didn’t talk to donors and hold fundraisers. Obama detailed all of his travels to Israel and the region. Romney’s only response was that things are really really bad in the world, and it is all Obama’s fault. Obama responded by breaking down all of Romney’s bad calls and flip-flops on foreign policy.
The questioning turned to Afghanistan, and Obama got to talk about his record with al-Qaeda and transitioned to now being the time for America to do nation building at home. Mitt Romney got a question about Pakistan, and he didn’t really seem to have anything to say. Romney said that he didn’t blame Obama for the strained Pakistan relationship, but said that we can’t walk away from Pakistan. Romney was asked about the drone strikes, and again all he had to say was that the president was right to use that technology. Romney seemed to have run out of debate prep talking points, and was now agreeing with Obama, but claiming that world has gone to hell thanks to Obama.
Obama was asked about our biggest threat to national security, and he said terrorist networks. The topic also shifted to China, and Obama laid out everything he has done to crack down on China. Romney called America’s greatest national security threat a nuclear Iran. Romney then stepped into the danger zone by talking about China, and blamed Obama for looking weak to China. Romney blamed China for outsourcing, and repeated his disastrous plan to label them a currency manipulator. Bob Schieffer woke up from his nap and asked Romney if a plan to label China a currency manipulator would start a trade war? Romney, who invested in a Chinese company that stole intellectual property, criticized China for stealing intellectual property.
Obama opened up a can of whoop ass on Romney, and called out his investment in companies that outsource jobs to China. Obama then hammered Romney’s corporate tax plan change that would create 800,000 jobs overseas. Obama pointed out that US exports to China have doubled since he came into office, and he pointed out the country now has its best currency situation since 1993. Romney tried to clean up his previous statements about auto bailout and lied by claiming that he would do nothing to hurt the auto industry. (This was a blatant appeal to Ohio voters.) Obama called out Romney for lying, and airbrushing history. Romney was left repeating his litany of bad economic numbers. Romney was in full blown retreat, and used the only card he really has left to play in this election.
In their closing statements, Obama made his case for a second term. Romney’s closing argument was to attack Obama, and offer vague promises of prosperity.
Obama was comfortable in this debate, and he owned Romney. The Republican nominee kept trying to change the subject to domestic policy, but when he did he danced on landmines. At times, Romney was tossing around a word salad that didn’t really mean anything. Romney looked weak in this debate, and he was left repeating much of what he already said in the first two debates. Mitt Romney looked totally lost on foreign policy. Obama followed up his strong performance in the second debate, with an equally strong showing in third debate.
Obama takes the debates by winning two out of three.