10.22.2012 0

No gaffes makes Romney the winner

Mitt Romney

Photo Credit: MittRomney.com

By Rick Manning — Foreign policy debates tend to make Americans hit the snooze button, and the debate last night was no different.

A responsible challenger cannot really make substantive attacks on a sitting president’s policies or on-going actions because to do so provides aid and comfort to the enemy.

Neither candidate can responsibly use intelligence information that could put our troops or country in harm’s way.

And neither candidate can lay out any bold new plans, so the discussion ends up being somewhat esoteric, unless one of the two presents a bold vision for what America can be that supersedes the topic.

Neither candidate did this.

What Governor Romney needed to do was show that he understands the world and will not be a risky choice so voters can focus upon their number one concern – the economy.  There were no Poland is not under Soviet domination moments for Romney.  There were no major gaffes, and he avoided going for red meat answers instead opting for safe, measured approaches.

What President Obama needed to do was show a mastery of the subject, and that Romney would be a dangerous and reckless choice – he failed on the last account.

This last point is why overall, one could argue that Obama won the debate from a stylistic perspective, but one cannot argue that he accomplished what he needed to do to win the election.

The foreign policy debate ended up taking the issue off the table with two exceptions both which accrued value to Romney.

  1. Romney’s discussion of the power of Latin American economies and the need for the U.S. to look toward North and South America countries for trading partners is exactly on point.  It was good politics with Hispanic voters, but more importantly it is great economic and foreign policy for our nation.
  2. Pro-Israel voters could not help but notice that Obama’s commitment to the Jewish state was greatest when he visited as a candidate in 2008, but once he became president, touring the middle east did not include our strongest ally in the region.

Typically a sitting president has a tremendous advantage having read four years of intelligence briefings and living and breathing foreign policy every day.

After 90 minutes those Americans who weren’t watching a game seven to decide the National Leagues World Series representative, or the NFL game on another channel came away with little new information, except an increased surety that Mitt Romney can be trusted in the oval office.

Obama desperately needed Romney to stumble in this debate to change the momentum that has sent his campaign into full scramble mode.

What Obama got instead was the equivalent of a Romney prevent defense.  A Romney determined not to make news in the debate.  A Romney resolute on the Pakistan question, but not with bombastic answers that destabilize and could become New York Times fodder.

Obama needed a knock out to overcome voter’s rejection of his record over the past four years.  Instead, he got a draw.

On January 20, 2013, America will be swearing in our 45th president, because ultimately the voters will decide that we can do better.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government.

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