Romney contrasts, Obama attacks; who is more presidential?

AP President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney discuss a point during the third presidential debate at Lynn University … Continued


President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney discuss a point during the third presidential debate at Lynn University on Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla.

The final debate on foreign policy between President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, while highly anticipated as a debate over what happened in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya this year, turned into a much broader debate over the fundamentals of foreign policy.

While the Libya question was asked right off the bat, neither candidate wanted to dive into the nitty gritty of parsing through the who said what when of what has become a foreign policy fiasco for President Obama. The discussion became much broader than that. And for his part, Romney received the accolades of many for staying above the fray, focusing on the underlying differences between their foreign policy views.

The stark differences in this debate were once again clear. For example, President Obama touted his role in killing Osama bin Laden at least six times during the debate. Romney, on the other hand, congratulated President Obama on taking out bin Laden and the leadership of al-Qaeda, but poignantly stated that “we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” expressing the need for a more “comprehensive and robust strategy” to fight the spread of extremism in the world.

Numerous times throughout the debate Romney made a point to agree with various decisions of the president but also made clear where he differed with the president and why.

A major point of contention in the debate was our level of support for Israel against a nuclear Iran. Here, the difference in just a couple of words provides a telling look at the difference between how these two men view this critical issue. President Obama twice stated, “if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.” Romney made clear our support for Israel period, not just if they are attacked, stating, “[W]hen I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel.” He also reiterated four times, “We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran.” Romney further noted how President Obama has gone out of his way to avoid Israel on his “apology tour” of the Middle East:

While Romney laid out their policy differences, President Obama took the opposite approach. He went after Romney on every occasion possible. He claimed Romney believed that the biggest threat facing America was “Russia, not al-Qaeda,” when in fact Romney had made clear that he considered Russia the biggest “geopolitical opponent,” continuing that “the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran.”

Of course, President Obama didn’t stop there; he began a theme of what can only be described as insulting Romney’s intelligence and in turn the intelligence of the American voter. He quipped, “the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

As an aside, some wondered after the last debate where Obama pushed funding for Planned Parenthood, whether he would find a way to steer this debate to social policies – prominent political prognosticator Stu Rothenberg even tweeting during the debate that the Obama team was “hoping that the next question involves abortion in the military” – but Obama did find a way to get in another jab on social issues. He quipped, “But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

When Romney pointed out that our Navy and Air Force are the smallest those branches of military have been since 1917 and 1947 respectively, Obama gave his sharpest and most derogatory diatribe of the debate. He snarked, “[W]e also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships.”

As it turns out, President Obama was flat out wrong on both counts; bayonets are standard issue for Marines and our troops first entered Afghanistan in 2001 on horseback. The back and forth over Obama’s snide comments about the size of our Navy and Air Force could all but seal his defeat in Virginia, with its large military population and economic reliance on Navy and Air Force bases.

But the facts aside, it was Obama’s disrespectful tone that struck so many people as unpresidential. Across the board, pundits
agreed that it was Romney who looked
presidential in this debate.

The American people agreed. In CNN’s flash poll, 60 percent of those surveyed said Romney could handle the job of president.

As a whole, Romney clearly won the debates. A comparison of the polls a month ago and today shows Romney gaining drastically and even overtaking Obama. And the trend in Romney’s direction didn’t change after this debate. The CNN poll of debate watchers again showed more undecided voters leaning toward Romney after the debate than those who decided to vote for Obama.

The only poll that really matters is now just two weeks away. The American people have now seen these two men, unfiltered by media or attack ads, put forward their vision for America. As Romney continues to set forth the clear contrasts between them, as he has done in each of these debates, we believe the American people will continue to see Romney as a credible alternative to four more years of the same failed policies from President Obama.

Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. He served as a consultant to Romney for President in 2008. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ.

  • joe3k

    Here in China, we watch the US presidential debate closely too; as it will affect the eco-system of the top 2 world economy. So far most Chinese policy maker favors Obama not because they endorse him but it seems Obama has more knowledge of overall presence of global policy climate in a modern time.

  • ocman

    Romney lightly reminded people the sanctions should start earlier — Obama administration delayed the sanctions even bipartisan congress passed them.

  • TheLowestCommonDenominator

    Who cares about the third debate? Remember the first debate when Romney crushed Obama!

    Oh man, when he obfuscated the use of expense deductions on business relocation with classic, dare I even say presidential, double speak. Then he followed it up with that epic zinger about how he needs a new accountant to take advantage of these deduction while he sends all our remaining jobs overseas. Alpha male Hale to the Chief all the way man! The general public knows this man, this is the kinda feces we shovel down our throats with our bare hands.

    So suck on that you intellectual elites. We don’t need your books! GOP ain’t no stupid.

  • ocman

    Romney was not an attack dog in the 1st debate. He defended his plan that was being distorted by Obama. He presented his plan and would not let Obama distorting it.
    That is a difference.
    Obama, in the first debate, did not have any to offer of his plan except distorting Romney’s plan — weakly.
    Then, Obama, fearing another debacle, over-attacked Romney.

  • ocman

    In the 2nd debate, Romney also looked more presidential when he told Obama to sit and wait for his turn. And Obama obliged and sat down.
    Romney looked like CEO and Obama being a customer service director in a company meeting.

  • ocman

    NickNick1: Sorry, I am not white…

  • naksuthin

    I thought Obama was rude and overbearing towards Mitt Romney. He attacked him too much and was condescending at times. Especially on the “number of ships” issue. Romney appear more presidential in that he wasn’t going to get drawn into a shouthing match.

    On the other hand, Romney spent much of the debate agreeing with the President’s handling of foreign affairs. Romney kept saying “I agree with the President on this” or “I agree with the President on that”. On arming the Syrian rebels, on Sanctions on Iran, on the use of drones, on invading Pakistani airspace, on abandoning Mubarak, on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in 2013…Romney kept agreeing with the President .

    I really came into the debate hoping to hear how Romney would differ from the President on major foreign policy issues.
    Instead Romney basically rubber stamped Obama’s foreign policy positions and gave the impression that the President has been taking the right course on foreign affairs all along.
    I give the debate to the President

  • keytolife

    Romney came across as very Presidential, articulate, extemely intelligent, a proven successful business man and governor, authoritative and able to lead this country. Far more of a powerful figure than Obama. Romey’s 5 point plan makes sense, especially his small business and private sector job plan.

    Obama came across as a narcissistic combative community organizer ready to call Romney a liar every time it was his turn rather than take ownership of his failures and sell us on his plan for the next four years. The only mention of jobs was his lame 3 point government employee plan, never ever mentioning private sector jobs:

    1. hire teachers, lots and lots of teachers
    2. repair our roads
    3. repair our bridges

    Romney is Presidential and has leadership qualities
    Obama is someone you would go have a beer with

  • Rorer714

    Romney is doing nothing more than attempting to channel Reagan. Seek the power of the Military-Industrial complex, prey upon the fears of the small minded who believe you can still be the dominant power in the world by sheer force of will and military might. It is a remnant of colonial times when there were still isolated pockets on the planet. The modern world is too integrated to unilaterally control any part of it – they have friends too. Sure, we could preemptively step on Iran like a cockroach, but who says Russia is going to stand still for that? The people who beat that drum are still living in a cave of their own making, and would get us all killed if that’s their idea of foreign policy.

    We have more than enough defense to protect ourselves from being overrun. It’s time to stop being everything to everyone worldwide. If you want to think about what we can’t afford, that’s it.

    Romney would face that reality too, if he were in the chair. I object strenuously to riling up the “Amurka, F-Yeah!” troops AS IF it’s actually a rational way to meet the future. It’s not, and he knows it.

  • ocman

    Another point that made Romney looking presidential…
    “America’s going to come back. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle.I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle…And we’ll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that…”
    Romney reminded voters the main problem with Washington DC has been no cooperation between Obama and congressional Republicans.
    Obama worked with Congress controlled by Pelosi and Reid during his first years. But the last 2 years, he has not worked with Congress and instead blamed Republicans.
    President Reagan had to work with Tip O’Neil.
    Bill Clinton had to work with Newt Gingrich.
    Barack Obama has not worked with John Boehner who would be a wimp comparing to Tip and Newt.

  • Rorer714

    That wasn’t Obama’s doing. The Repubs made no bones of the fact that they were going to do everything in their power to obstruct the mission of Obama’s presidency. If Romney held that office, we would see nothing but steamrolling of the Democrats and at least 47% of the population. He lies through his teeth about having a any interest in bipartisanship — unless forced to by the makeup of congress — and you know it.

    And Boehner is the reactionary puppet of the most partisan faction of Republican leadership, so don’t shovel your crap here.

  • lechugafresca

    ocman….the reason why Romney was “successful” (I urge you too see frontline: the candidate) is becuase he became a democrat…hence the reason of so much flip-flopping. The man has no backbone…and anybody who knows him will vouch for that.

    second, the congress that Obama had to contend with has pledge allegiance to Norquist….not to the united states so any republican found supporting the Obama would be severly punished by the party a KNOWN FACT…while the democrats have never demanded this kind of pledge. This why Reagan was able to get things done, so has the Bushes.. As for clinton and Gringrich you have forgotten the times that the goverment was shut-down…and in todays congress they actually let our credit to be downgraded.

    So please do not tried to blame Obama for republican back-stabbing.

  • JohnnyAmerica

    It is ironic that Obama wants to delve into Romney’s past history but has spent millions to hide his own past- He even surrendered his law license to avoid investigation- Obama is a master con-artist who preaches to the poor and tells them what they want to hear-like he and the DEMOCRATs are for them and those mean nasty REPUBLICANs are for the rich but in fact-the rich own Obama totally and spent millions to hide his past and spent many more millions in keeping his past history out of the news-media- yet not one of the (over) 60 lawsuits against Obama’s eligibility to be president even got the last line of any news-paper- but Obama’s past secretive history is used as a ransom to control him -that is why gas is $4.23/gal after the USA has produced more oil than anytime in history- After the election gas will shoot up over $6.00/gal-

  • outridercastle

    Romney isa pugnacious bully and a coward. When he is demonizing President Obama he struts like a warrior but when our President calls his bluff during the debate by impeaching him with prior contradictory statements he whimpers like a baby rather than admitting the he flip flops. Romney is macho-man lite.

  • maryp123

    “[W]e also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed . . . As it turns out, President Obama was flat out wrong on both counts; bayonets are standard issue for Marines and our troops first entered Afghanistan in 2001 on horseback. ”

    Umm… I think you don’t understand this.

  • ourfuture

    Romney came across like the Commander-in-Chief. Obama came across like a petty challenger, with sarcastic, below-the-belt, jabs that made him look desperate. Romney has the foreign policy knowledge, the good judgment and maturity, and the belief in American exceptionalism (not shared by Obama) to make America a world leader once again. He was also brilliant in shifting the conversation to the economy and pointing out that a strong America at home is the only way to guarantee leadership abroad.

  • ourfuture

    Obama had both Houses of Congress for the first two years of his Presidency, and he still failed.

  • ourfuture

    Channeling Reagan is fine with me.

  • ourfuture

    Romney of course disagrees with the President on many issues. But he went for the big picture — he contrasted his vision of America’s role in the world, through his reminding us all of Obama’s “Apology Tour” , snubbing Israel, and Iran’s nuclear capability.

    Meanwhile, he stressed the fact that a strong America (recovered economy, energy independence, militarily well resourced) is in a better position to be a leader abroad. That got it back to the major point that Obama has destroyed this country economically, whereas Romney can –and will–turn around the economy.

    This was an indictment of Obama’s record that he cannot dispute.

    Romney did it all so subtly, he prevented the Axelrod team from making hay of it the next day. He stayed away from Benghazi because he knew that Obama would be practiced in deceptive comebacks. He was strategically brilliant in doing this. Hmmm–he might just make a good President!!!

  • rbenedict

    Of course China prefers Obama, he is a weak ‘yes’ man. You are not the only country to do so.
    Thank you, you are very polite and I admire that.
    But Obama is not admired by his own people, so he must go. Tell the policy makers he will be available soon and let him be in charge over there. They will run like rabbits.

  • ourfuture

    Don’t forget to vote.

  • amelia45

    Obama was more presidential. Romney was a wimp.

  • davidknowles2

    Because they make brilliant long term surveillance platforms to monitor large areas of territories. Long term as in several weeks in man versions, months in unmanned robotic operation.

    There are many reasons why the military wants this type of capability, the primary one is to keep 24 hours, 7 days a week look out for insurgence laying down IED devices in an area. Which is also why automated detection software is also being developed.

    Another approach have been to use solar power aircraft such as Qinetq Zephyr to meet the same mission objectives.

  • davidknowles2

    ourfuture, how did he fail, he pass several bills during that time and did get things done during those two years.

  • davidknowles2

    Of cause Romney believes that Iran is land lock country and their only access to the sea is through Syria.

    I guest he must of spent his time in his geography lesson bullying other kids instead of listening to the teacher or taking a look at the world wide globe.

  • persiflage

    Sekulow wants to buy a pig in a polk…….I say let him. Hopefully the majority of voters realize that political chameleons like Romney are hiding far more than they care to reveal. Mitt is a very high risk choice when you parse out all the double talk and continuous changeability on every important issue.
    And check this out – Romney is a mime, and a good one.

    He’s been studying Obama very closely, and is currently presenting himself as the white Obama with some conservative tweaking. This is the kind of duplicitious behavior one expects from people with significant personality disorders. It works well on Wall Street, but not so much on Main Street.

    The bottom line with Mitt Rmoney is unpredictabiilty. Don’t doubt it.

  • persiflage

    Have another cup of tea……….

  • persiflage

    Delusional voters definitely belong in the Romney camp. He needs every whacko birther vote he can get.

  • persiflage

    Obama has been forced to function without republican cooperation since taking office – the GOP is a political abomination and will be the undoing of the country, given the chance.

  • persiflage

    ‘Channeling Reagan is fine with me.’

    Unless you’re a complete dimwit with significant memory loss, that means raising taxes.

  • mammyyel

    Yes, let’s ask a little lying tattle-tale like Sekulow about this.

  • cricket44

    Oh, bull. Romney was a pi**poor governor, when he even bothered to be in state, and he’d be even worse as president.

    *What* leadership qualities?