The third and final presidential debate of the 2012 election featured President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney arguing foreign policy. At least it was supposed to — the candidates agreed on many goals and approaches, and the discussion often turned back to domestic issues. National commentators have weighed in. Here’s a sampling:
The Atlantic’s James Fallows said Obama performed best.
… It was more striking as a matter of substance that on virtually no issue did Romney make an actual criticism, of any sort, of Obama’s policy or record. Including topics where he used to disagree, like the timeline for withdrawal for Afghanistan! Instead it was, “I agree, but you should have done it better.”
The National Review blog The Corner disagreed, citing Obama’s tone.
In any debate, when the two score comparable points, the more aggressive and petulant usually comes off less well, especially given that Romney’s tone and expression were more like the reflective performance of his wildly successful first debate. The take-away quotes and sound bites from the debate will favor Romney.
USA Today’s Susan Page noted that the candidates spent a good deal of the foreign policy discussing domestic issues.
In the debate, both men managed to turn the topic back to issues closer to home, from taxes and jobs to education. Both of them delivered closing statements that focused not on foreign policy but on the economy — and the election, now just 15 days away.
And the Washington Post blog The Fix said Obama appeared more confident, but did he overdo it?
It’s possible that Obama came off too hot/not presidential in some of his attacks but Democrats will take a little too much heat following Obama’s cold-as-ice performance in the first debate. Obama came across as the more confident and commanding presence — by a lot.