Pundits, polls, and even some conservatives have come to the conclusion that the third presidential debate in the 2012 election cycle was a victory for President Obama. With so many agreeing on the outcome, the question remains as to why the President took home the gold. Obama’s first success in the debate came on the first question. The moderator, Bob Schieffer, asked a question about the conflict in Libya with the pointed question: “Was this an intelligence failure?”
Romney spoke first. And he missed a major opportunity. Instead of attacking the President on his inability to honor the requests for more extensive security forces at the Benghazi Embassy, Romney recited a scripted opening statement he would have likely presented no matter the first question. I’m under the assumption that had Libya been brought up later in the debate, Romney would have attacked Obama on the issue. Instead, he passed up the opportunity to focus on broad issues such as Syria, terrorism, and Iran.
Smartly, President Obama stuck to the broad topic surrounding Libya and to his reaction to the Benghazi Embassy attack instead of focusing on the more important issue of what caused the attack to happen in the first place. At the end of his first segment, Obama has already began his attacks on Romney claiming that his “strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East.”
While Romney did a fair job of defending himself throughout the debate, he came up short on his ability to throw attack back towards the Obama camp. Shocking considering Romney was so confident and concise in his attacks through the first two debates and considering that while Romney has four years of foreign policy to attack Obama on, Romney has never actually instated any foreign policy during his political career. It was an impressive job by President Obama to win the attacking battle when he is the one with the record to attack.
Another moment worthy of note was when Bob Schieffer asked Governor Romney what his view on drones was while acknowledging that “we know what President Obama’s position on this is.” This leading question was bias. Instead of forcing the President to expand on his drone policy and explain so that everyone was aware of his position, Schieffer gave him a free pass. Obama’s stance on drones is a position that alienates him from the far left on occasion. In fairness, Obama should have been forced to expand on this position.