Yesterday’s debate left Democratic hopefuls foaming at the mouth as Barack Obama reigned in what critics are labeling as his first victory against Governor Mitt Romney, the GOP contender. Many have also hailed the President’s performance as the best debate of his career as a national politician!
The conversation moved in many directions, but Obama surpassed Romney in several areas: jobs/economy; women’s rights, specifically the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; and immigration reform. Most poignantly though, Obama’s response to the delayed allegations regarding the 9/11 Benghazi attack came around to bit Mr. Romney in the butt! Romney said that “it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
Let’s get it straight: The President’s remarks on the day after the attack, per the transcript provided by the White House, were: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” So, while he failed to directly label the attack as “an act of terror,” the overall context of the President’s speech suggests that the events were painted as a terrorist act in indirect terms. What followed, however, were several inconsistent statements about the conflict by executive officials, which effectively diluted Obama’s description.
The real crux, though, was Candy Crowley’s (the moderator) affirmation during the debate. She noted that President Obama had in fact described the event as a terrorist act in a speech delivered on September 12 at the White House Rose Garden. Crowley did, however, concede to Governor Romney’s position that the Administration’s messages in the days that proceeded the event prompted confusion.
For more detail, here’s a look at the clip!
Nevertheless, the applause confirmed the damage! Critics have pointed to Romney’s factual misstep as not only a debate highlight, but also an obstacle that the campaign will need to overcome given the current political climate!
But the real question is whether Romney’s embarrassing, heavily underscored misstep will prove costly in the time leading up to the next debate, which ironically pertains to foreign policy? As the candidates move closer and closer to their November 6 deadline, they need to prove to the electorate, and the world, who has a better handle on foreign policy! One thing is for sure, as of yesterday, Romney is now the one playing defense!
Joshua D. Wodka