The third and final debate which centered on foreign policy really didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. It's no secret that Obama's foreign policy record is just as much of a disaster as his economic record. I did hear from those on the right who complained that Romney was being soft on Obama through the debate and especially on the issue of the terrorist attack on our embassy in Libya which lead to the killing of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. While watching the debate, it became clear to me what Romney was doing. The conventional thinking by conservatives was to expect Romney to come out and deliver the final knockout punch to Obama. The Obama team and their media friends were expecting Romney to try and do that. Obama knew that he had to be ultra aggressive against Romney in order to make up ground in the polls and to try and reverse the Romney momentum swing. What Romney did during the debate amounted to playing tug of war with Obama, but Romney decided instead to let go, when Obama pulled. Obama wanted to mix it up with Romney badly, but Romney just sat in his chair and agreed with Obama. That made Obama come off as the aggressor while Romney just stood back and appeared presidential
. It was almost a replay of the Ryan-Biden debate. Romney used this tactic through the Republican primaries with success. The media would have gone into attack mode on Romney if he would have played the game Obama wanted, but they couldn't. The question is whether it worked or not. I guess that depends on who you talk to. Obama supporters clearly believe Obama won. Romney supporters believe Romney won on style and some are calling it a draw. In the end, it really doesn't matter. These debates are geared towards one group of people, and they are not Republicans nor Democrats, and these people believe Romney won the debate.
CBS News conducted a focus group the day after among undecided voters in the key battleground state of Ohio. The stunned response by CBS/Obama News was priceless in itself.
Frank Luntz performed another focus group among independent voters as well on Sean Hannity's Fox News show. The Luntz focus group was filled with people who voted for Obama in 2008. Many said that Obama won the debate on Foreign Policy, but the issue that most thought was more important was the economy.
Romney knew that, and that is why he kept steering the topic back to the economy every chance he got during the debate. Foreign Policy will never be the number one issue in an election, unless the country is currently at war.
Back in 2008, John McCain was a war hero candidate versus Barack Obama who had zero military experiences, yet Obama won the election. In 1992, the war hero incumbent president Herbert Walker Bush faced a Vietnam draft dodging Bill Clinton. The result, Bill Clinton won. Even though the gulf war was a success, it didn't help Bush 41, because the country was in the middle of an economic slowdown. One of the focus group members quoted Democratic strategist Jame Carville's famous line, "It's the economy stupid". That is what it always comes down to in elections.