Monday’s final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was striking in that the challenger Romney seemed to be the president and Obama the challenger. During the debate that mostly focused on foreign policy, the president was in attack mode, frequently deriding the challenger and often interjecting domestic-policy attacks, such as Romney’s business history, at the challenger.
Romney, on the other hand, conducted himself in a more restrained manner, seeming to deliberately avoid conflict and any situation that would raise emotions and make him appear too extreme compared to the current administration. In fact, at times Romney seemed almost in accordance with many of Obama’s policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel.
When had disagreements with the president, they focused more on particulars, such as his accusations that the president did not encourage protests in Iran after a presidential vote and Obama’s diplomatic relations with Israel’s leaders.
In fact, Romney was so cautious that he avoided trying to attack Obama on the administration’s handling of the recent terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Libya. It’s notable that moderator Bob Schieffer did a good job, keeping himself out of the fray and allowing both candidates to have ample time to get their points across.
His challenger’s demeanor allowed Obama to again be aggressive and go on the attack often against his adversary. It may have energized his base again but Romney may have been the long-term winner of this debate for one key reason — he resisted the urge to argue with the president. He maintained the calm, respectful demeanor and knowledge that impressed so many voters in the first debate. It’s doubtful that what was said Monday night managed to turn the race back to last month, when Obama enjoyed a solid lead.
The debates are over, the race is very close. Now we get ready for the final sprint to election day by both candidates.