With the 3rd Debate, Obama has Become the Challenger

No doubt plenty of conservatives wanted a more reactive and aggressive Romney. But as I said last time, the purpose of these debates is not to score points. It’s to appear in charge. This late in the game, the shift has already happened.

Obama came into the 3rd debate as the challenger and acted like it, launching attack after attack at Romney. But Romney, in a turn from his previous debate performance, took on a laid back attitude. The two men had switched roles and Romney’s goal was to maintain his lead by alienating as few voters as possible.

The election is Romney’s to lose. Obama has nothing left to lose. That is what you saw in this debate. Romney had the ball and Obama did everything he could to get it from him. He failed.

Romney’s goal was to appear presidential, assure voters that he wouldn’t take any drastic steps and keep foreign policy on track while showing more leadership. It’s not what we want to hear, but we’re not swing voters. What they want to hear is that there will be no new wars but that the country will remain strong and secure. That’s what Romney gave them.

The polls show that people think Obama won the debate. And that’s because he kept doing what challengers do, which is work to get on camera, stay on camera and throw as many shots as he could while on camera.

Romney’s goal was to act presidential, remain calm and assure people that he won’t take any drastic steps as president. It’s not an approach that wins debates, but at this stage in the game it does win elections.

Romney did not come to the debate to beat Obama, but to pick up Obama’s voters. Time will tell if he succeeded or not.

  • Chezwick

    Romney's decision to refrain from criticism of Obama's Libya policy may have been the high road, but I think it was a big mistake. In fact, there were at least a dozen moments when Obama left him an opening, but the Governor chose to play it safe.

    For example, when Obama emphatically bragged that he – "I" – embraced the Tunisian revolution in its infancy, Romney could have come back with something like this…

    "The President has just congratulated himself for his Tunisian policy, and yet, what do we see today in Tunisia? We have the elected leader of an Islamist government expressing his intention to institute Sharia in the country. Tunisian moderates, secularists, and particularly women, are aghast at the prospect. And here, Mr Obama – who repeatedly insists it is his policy to help emancipate the women of the Muslim world – touts this dismal state of affairs as something to be proud of."

    There were many other opportunities to expose the President's fallacies, but either the Governor was insufficiently knowledgeable about the issues, or he just chose to play it safe. Either way, I just hope to God he didn't squander his prospects.

    • posse101

      excellent analysis. i feel the same way. as a Conservative i felt he should have been more aggressive but it remains to be seen if the "high road" (and being less aggressive) was just another opportunity to play it safe (which i personally don't like) and thus attract the undecideds. personally i think Romney should have been much more aggressive during the entire campaign. during this and the other debates i was imagining what Newt would have said to Obama during all those different debate interactions. it seemed Romney only marginally (in his non-confontive and too gentle way) touched upon them ever so slightly and then they were forgotten. also, if i had a dollar for every time Romney said that he agrees with the President or the President's policy i'd be rich. i think people needed to see and feel the clear difference between Romney and Obama more. Romney should have seized the opportunity these last two debates but in my opinion did not do that. they saw that aggressiveness and pointing out the major differences between the candidates in the first debate, which, not coincidentally, gave Romney his big bump in the polls. this only makes my point that he should have been more aggressive during all three of the debates. he'd be up now in all the polls. Gingrich would have buried Obama. Santorum too. Bachmann also. Romney in my opinion was (and is) the weakest and least leader-like of the four.

    • BS77

      agreed. good post. I was disappointed with the third debate…for the same reasons. Now it's up to the voters….and that could mean Animal Farm is on its way.

  • Gamaliel

    I think Obama's comment that Romney said that we should ask permission from Pakistan in order to get Osama was a devastating blow. I wonder if it's true. Romney endorsed a lot of Obama's bad policies. When Obama said we had to get Mubarak out because he crushed people with tanks Romney should have talked about the Christians crushed by tanks after Mubarak was thrown out of office. Why didn't Romney speak about the terrible persecution of Christians that was unleashed by Obama's policies? Why didn't he speak about the increased likelihood of war between Egypt and Israel thanks to Obama's pressure on Egypt to remove Mubarak. Why didn't he ask Obama why he was willing to withhold American money to have Mubarak replaced with radical Muslims but not willing to withhold American money from Egypt when it persecuted Christians? Romney is also wrong that people don't vote for war. Germany voted for Hitler and Egypt voted for Morsi. One reason for the hatred against Mubarak was that he didn't want war with Israel. Romney will repeat Bush and Obama's mistakes of trying to spread democracy in areas where the people are worse than the dictators who try and control them.

    • chris

      You are clearly concerned about Christian communities that live in various countries around the middle east.
      There is a Christian community in Syria which is 10% of the population. would you support an American intervention to protect them bearing in mind that they are strong supporters of the Assad ragime.

      • intrcptr2

        From what I've been led to understand, the Christians are supporting the regime largely because we have already abandoned the secularists who have been opposing Assad from the earliest.
        It would be a quick suicide for Christians in Syria to help Muslimms topple Assad, as opposed to the slow one they are currently committing.

  • Joan

    It seems that we all wanted Romney to come on strong and secure. I agree that I hated to see him spending time telling how he agreed with Obama on several occasions. I just hope the handlers are aright about trying to woo the undecided to win the election. But for those of us supporting from day 1, what we want to hear is that a new administration will follow an entirely different path.
    Several mention Egypt and Tunisia where we see the policies of the Obama administration failing abysmally……and we want a new administration to right these wrongs. I hope our day comes!!!
    I agree with you about replacing perhaps poor leaders with someone much worse….we have to try and stop trying to give democracy to people who don't want it and don't understand it.

  • Horace

    Whee, Romney appeared presidential, if you think presidential is being diplomatic – i.e. silent about what's really wrong and unwilling to say anything if you cant say something nice. Bush said Islam is the religion of peace. He overthrew Saddam Hussein a semi-secular dictator who kept the islamists (sharia islam and democracy are totally incompatible) under control while slowly educating them and bringing them into the modern world, while building palaces all over the place for himself and gassing Kurds, etc. etc. Mubarak was a much better man. Even Khadaffy kept the Islamists at bay while keeping slaughter to a minimum. Assad balances religious freedom as well as possible in Syria with all those crazy muslims to deal with. Overthrowing secular dictators in muslim land turns out to be a mistake embraced by Bush Obama and Romney.

  • Horace

    Bush, Obama and Romney seem to agree on how to put Islamists in power. Romney did use the words "jihadists" and "sharia" correctly in a sentence or 2, but otherwise presented himself as ignorant about the horrors of Islam and sharia and their assault on the west. He spouted platitudes about peace and democracy in all the right places and looked harmless enough. Obama said more about protecting religious minorities and women (while doing nothing to protect minorities and women) than Romney did . Obama didin't seem grateful enough that Romney was going so easy on him, and made snide remarks about horses and bayonets. Romney got too awfully close to the losing performance of John McCain in his debates. Mr. Niceguy smiles on us. How nice. I guess we'll all swing together with the swing voters if Mobhamahd gets another term. It's the economy everywhere all the time, but sharia demographics and socialism/communism are the termites in the structure. Politics is the art of the possible. Fire Obama now.

  • tagalog

    In the third debate, Romney looked presidential and Obama was niggling and petty. Romney looked a couple of times like he was going to start smirking like Joe Biden, but he successfully quelled that. Obama kept interrupting and picking on minor points.

    Both held their own for the most part; both occasionally stumbled. I would call the debate a draw, which to me means it ended with Romney on the upswing.

    So, it that's true, why is the MSM claiming that Obama won? I didn't think he won; he did OK, about the same as Romney. And why are the polls showing the race to be so close? I just can't believe that it's roughly 50% for Obama and roughly 50% for Romney. That seems so counter-intuitive to me. But maybe it's the case.

  • BLJ

    The only "debate" that really matters is the first one. Romney cleaned the Chosen One's clock in that one. The other two were just window dressing.

    Obama is actually facing an opponent that is not rolling over. Obama has to finally run on his record. Lastly, the novelty of voting for a "black" president (mainly via white guilt) has come and gone.

    Romney does not need to act like an attack dog. People want an adult in charge after almost 4 years of an overrated school boy. Obama acted like he always does. He also knows he is on the way out.

  • http://twitter.com/undefined @undefined

    After the debates in a CBS interview in Ohio, swing voters went for Romney 6 to 2… That’s 60%…!Romney did not come to the debate to beat Obama, but to pick up Obama’s voters. If that small sample of swing voters by ultra-liberal CBS is true and will remain, it will tell if Romney succeeded or not.