T Nation

Last Debate: 10/22/2012

This one will be on Foreign Policy.

The Moderator is Bob Schieffer of CBS.

It’s my impression that the First two debates (especially the first) have had the greatest impact…but there could be a gaff or two. I would imagine that both men have different agendas:

  1. Romney needs to show that he does have some Foreign Policy “chops”.

  2. The President most likely has a two-fold agenda: a) highlight his Foreign Policy successes and b) show Romney to be naive and “dangerous”.

Libya should be interesting only in the sense of how much it will be dwelled on.

Thoughts?

It’s on to the finish line from here!

Mufasa

I see this debate as pretty much going through the motions. If anything happens to stop Romentum it won’t be in this debate. It’d have to be some kind of October surprise.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
I see this debate as pretty much going through the motions. If anything happens to stop Romentum it won’t be in this debate. It’d have to be some kind of October surprise. [/quote]

Agree.

I just don’t see any new arguments and/or positions that will change things much.

Mufasa

Romney will be much better prepared o Libya, and he has the natural upper hand on that issue. Expect some serious points there.

Other than that, for me anyway, I expect Obama to win most of the exchanges. Romney’s positions are either far too similar to his opponent’s (Afghanistan, Israel because despite all of the chest-beating he has said remarkably little about what he’d do differently) or simply nonsense (Apology tours, China).

But, I do believe that the inevitable Libya exchange can carry the day for Romney, even if he’s running at half speed.

Schieffer better raise the Libyan security question and press it, or it will be journalistic malpractice.

But I don’t see a major shift here, unless one of the candidates says something absurd or outlandish. Romney will be prepped, and given the recent movement in the polls, I predict he won’t be in much of an attack-mode - he’ll certainly criticize the President, but Romney isn’t playing from behind at this point and there’s little upside to getting into a heated exchange about Libya, etc.

I think Obama will likely do the same - there’s very little for Obama to attack Romney with here. Obama risks sounding foolish if he highlights Romney’s lack of experience (after all, Obama had none when he ran), and can only attack general themes - i.e., Romney wants us to return to a Bush-like foreign policy, etc.

I don’t think this debate serves as much of a chance for either man to shine - domestic issues are far and away the most important issues in this election.

[quote]smh23 wrote:
Romney will be much better prepared o Libya, and he has the natural upper hand on that issue. Expect some serious points there.

Other than that, for me anyway, I expect Obama to win most of the exchanges. Romney’s positions are either far too similar to his opponent’s (Afghanistan, Israel because despite all of the chest-beating he has said remarkably little about what he’d do differently) or simply nonsense (Apology tours, China).

But, I do believe that the inevitable Libya exchange can carry the day for Romney, even if he’s running at half speed.[/quote]

They pretty much agree on FP, lol. But I expect Romeny to get pwned tonight. A drubbing.

Alas more people will watch Monday Night Football tonight though.

Two other things for Romney:

  1. Connect foreign policy to national economics, which is obviously Romney’s strength. Talk about how smarter economic policy (i.e., less borrowing from the likes of China, energy independence, etc.) translates into a stronger America in international affairs (which it does). This theme plays very well with the Reagan-Democrat-types, too.

  2. Announce an unalloyed pro-Israel stance.

Bob Schieffer will only tilt slightly to Obama. He’s old school when democrats used to be more subtle in their reporting when trying to favor democrats. He also has the advantage of seeing both previous moderators get savaged by the press (for different reasons). I think he will keep strong control over both candidates regarding speaking time and interruptions etc.

I also think they’ll both find out early that Schieffer is in charge of the debate!

This will not be a repeat of either the first or second debate regarding the moderator.

If I understand the format correctly it will be in five parts with five different and distinct questions asked about foreign policy. With a China question being asked lastly.

Romney should have three goals tonight:

  1. Put Obama’s back against the wall on Libya and don’t let him slither out. This was proven difficult to do in the previous debate mainly due to Candy Crowely saving Obama near the end. But also Romney didn’t present his case as strongly as he could have even before Crowley ran defense for Obama. I think he’ll be ready this time.

  2. At every opportunity tie foreign policy to our weak economy. The economy happens to be not only Obama’s weakest point but Romney’s strongest. Most polls are showing that the people trust Romney with the economy and he need to reinforce that. So get ready to hear at least once maybe twice the laundry list of Obama’s failures regarding the economy.

  3. Point out how Obama has treated Israel and that he (Romney) as President would never put distance between the US and Israel. There are plenty of Jewish voters who voted for Obama by about 70% in 2008. If Romney can lower that figure to even 60% that will go a long way in helping him win the race.

If he can do those three things and look “Presidential” in the process he wins the debate. And even if it looks like a tie, he still wins as a tie won’t move the needle for Obama.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Libya is not the first question.

Mufasa

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
I wouldn’t be surprised if Libya is not the first question.

Mufasa[/quote]

You mean you WOULD be suprised if Libya is not the first question.

Or do I have that wrong?

You think Libya will be the first question right?

Yes…I have a feeling that Libya will be the first question.

Mufasa

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Yes…I have a feeling that Libya will be the first question.

Mufasa[/quote]

Guess no more my friend here are the questions for this the final debate:

[quote]PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ANNOUNCED BY MODERATOR

Bob Schieffer, moderator of the third 2012 presidential debate, has selected the topics for that debate, which is on foreign policy. Mr. Schieffer stated:

"Subject to possible changes because of news developments, here are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

[b]America’s role in the world

Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red Lines - Israel and Iran

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II

The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World[/b]

The debate will be held on Monday, October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic. All debates start at 9:00 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes."[/quote]

By the looks of this Romney will have to raise the Benghazi incident at some point during the terrorism questions.

[quote]ZEB wrote:

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Yes…I have a feeling that Libya will be the first question.

Mufasa[/quote]

Guess no more my friend here are the questions for this the final debate:

[quote]PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ANNOUNCED BY MODERATOR

Bob Schieffer, moderator of the third 2012 presidential debate, has selected the topics for that debate, which is on foreign policy. Mr. Schieffer stated:

"Subject to possible changes because of news developments, here are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

[b]America’s role in the world

Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red Lines - Israel and Iran

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II

The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World[/b]

The debate will be held on Monday, October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic. All debates start at 9:00 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes."[/quote]

By the looks of this Romney will have to raise the Benghazi incident at some point during the terrorism questions.

[/quote]

I just don’t understand why moderators insist on raising topic on which there is very little disagreement. Romney is not pretty much on the same page as Obama in Afghanistan. He talks about the drawdown having taken place during fighting season rather than in winter, but that’s a minor point in the big swing of things. All that’s left after that are hypotheticals: “Would you re-intervene if…” And those are pretty meaningless.

Let the debate take place in areas where there is a clear difference.

[quote]smh23 wrote:

[quote]ZEB wrote:

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Yes…I have a feeling that Libya will be the first question.

Mufasa[/quote]

Guess no more my friend here are the questions for this the final debate:

[quote]PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ANNOUNCED BY MODERATOR

Bob Schieffer, moderator of the third 2012 presidential debate, has selected the topics for that debate, which is on foreign policy. Mr. Schieffer stated:

"Subject to possible changes because of news developments, here are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

[b]America’s role in the world

Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red Lines - Israel and Iran

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II

The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World[/b]

The debate will be held on Monday, October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic. All debates start at 9:00 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes."[/quote]

By the looks of this Romney will have to raise the Benghazi incident at some point during the terrorism questions.

[/quote]

I just don’t understand why moderators insist on raising topic on which there is very little disagreement. Romney is not pretty much on the same page as Obama in Afghanistan. He talks about the drawdown having taken place during fighting season rather than in winter, but that’s a minor point in the big swing of things. All that’s left after that are hypotheticals: “Would you re-intervene if…” And those are pretty meaningless.

Let the debate take place in areas where there is a clear difference.[/quote]

You make a valid point. But I think these issues play well for Romney so I don’t mind. I also think that after the first 30 minutes people will be turning off the debate at a very high rate for two reasons. The first is that this is not new anymore, Obama and Romney going at it has been done and most people have made up their minds so they are now less interested. And also foreign affairs is not nearly as sexy as economic policy, or a town hall meeting. So the rate at which they turn their TV channel to another program will be quite high after about 30 minutes. Much higher than either of the first two. While Monday night football might not be the ratings winner tonight it will have more viewers than most think.

[quote]smh23 wrote:

Let the debate take place in areas where there is a clear difference.[/quote]

Agreed. We know each candidate is going to launch into their “overarching principles” speech at some point, so there is little need to ask for it. That will come naturally (or, actually, artificially - they’ll cram it in whatever the question).

One thing I’d like to put in before the debate: Romney talking about branding China a currency manipulator is beyond stupid. A good case could’ve been made about six years ago, but China has actually improved dramatically on this front and as Ezra Klein pointed out in the Post today is actually doing a better job than Singapore and even to some degree Japan.

And what does Romney want to do? Hurl something that really accomplishes nothing and serves no purpose other than a big international insult, and then what? The next natural step is to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. And then next natural step after that is for China to impose tariffs on American goods. And then we have a trade war. Smart economic policy.

Or you can argue that Romney doesn’t really mean any of this, he’s just campaigning. Well, that ain’t much better.

[quote]ZEB wrote:

The first is that this is not new anymore, Obama and Romney going at it has been done and most people have made up their minds so they are now less interested.[/quote]

I think this is an important point, and maybe even a flaw of the debate formats. The townhall debate in the middle of the debates allowed all topics to be covered. Foreign policy, to a certain extent, has already been covered. I think it is fairly dumb to have a debate focused exclusively on a particular subject after that subject matter has been considerably touched on in a previous round.

As a result of that, and as a result of opinions already formign and hardening among the electorate one way or the other, I’m not sure there is a whole lot of people left who will watch this debate outide the sheer desire to see the sport of it.

Romney needs to act Presidential in this debate.

He needs to act as if he is now taking over as President, that he is both ready and capable.

He needs to stop acting like the challenger, and own it like he owns the boardroom.

Foreign policy won’t decide anything, I think this is where Romney can prove that he is the “not-Obama” guy.

The consensus seems to be that foreign policy matters little. I do agree that economic and domestic matters are more important in this election, but the electorate (very rightly) demands that the nuclear codes end up in rational and competent hands. A gaffe tonight could certainly be costly for either candidate, and more so for Romney because this is in many ways his first venture into the arena of international politics.

Edit: On a personal note, if Mitt Romney makes level-headed calls tonight and avoids the apology tour nonsense, he will not have earned my vote but he will have taken my vote away from Obama over the course of the three debates. I will stay home on election day unless I feel like a Romney victory poses a threat to our national security (doubtful).

[quote]smh23 wrote:

One thing I’d like to put in before the debate: Romney talking about branding China a currency manipulator is beyond stupid. A good case could’ve been made about six years ago, but China has actually improved dramatically on this front and as Ezra Klein pointed out in the Post today is actually doing a better job than Singapore and even to some degree Japan. And what does Romney want to do? Hurl something that really accomplishes nothing and serves no purpose other than a big international insult, and then what? The next natural step is to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. And then next natural step after that is for China to impose tariffs on American goods. And then we have a trade war. Smart economic policy.[/quote]

The difference is that Japan and Singapore are bona fide allies - China is not - and the econommics can’t be separated from the politics. And, China, because of its size and scope, isn’t like Japan or Singapore - China’s currency advantage causes massive disruption in the “fair” flow of goods in a way that Japan’s does not. It’d be similar to comparing the trangressions of Goldman Sachs to a regional bank - even if the regional bank engaged in worse behavior than Goldman Sachs on paper, the impact of Goldman Sachs’s transgressions would have more significance.

The China issue also plays well with blue-collar-Reagan-Democrat types in the old Rust belt states - and for good reason.

China is also easy prey, given the strong opinions on it, because Obama has boxed himself in and cannot credibly complain about China at this point (since he hasn’t for 4 years).