Tonight Mitt Romney and Barack Obama had one last chance to have America’s undivided attention. Both candidates seemed to know what they needed to do and they kept to their separate strategies.
Romney was clearly trying to move away from prosecutor and toward acting Presidential. He talked many times about peace and sounded more like a dove on war policy than many had ever heard. His strategy was clearly to look like a sober, steady hand on the trigger. To assure nervous undecideds that he can handle the possession of the nuclear launch codes. He was also in a unique position of having momentum and therefore not really in need of a game changer. He could sit on the lead he garnered in the first debate.
President Obama, on the other hand, remained aggressive and pushed the issue a number of times with his opponent. He looked like a guy that was in desperate need of something that would move the needle. He attacked like a guy who’s behind, because he is.
Many may claim the headline of this debate is the many times Romney agreed with Obama on policy. I don’t think this should surprise people because these two don’t disagree entirely on foreign policy. There are certain points of agreement. Romney chose to attack those key points where the views did not match. Romney would never attack Obama for killing Osama bin Laden or removing Gaddafi. He attacked on the President’s apology tour in 2009 and his ‘leading from behind’ strategy instead.
The electoral impact of this debate is still unknown, but I would predict its influence to be small. The trajectory of these debates was made clear after the first one. Add in the fact that domestic issues are the dominant topics in 2012 and you have a recipient for a small impact night.
Both men needed to pass the Commander and Chief threshold. Both men did. Now that that’s complete, the voters can judge their different views and the temperaments they possess. It is only the voters that can judge which man can best lead the free world. That decision will be rendered in just two week’s time.
*The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
** Photo courtesy of AP