Last night's third and final presidential debate appeared light on foreign policy (especially if it didn't involve the Middle East or China), but the meeting did spawn one of the more memorable memes of the campaign. What else are people saying about it this morning?
Presidential debate 2012: 7 takeaways — Maggie Haberman, Politico
What’s more, while Romney declined to actually distinguish a number of his own positions from Obama’s, it was ultimately a tactical benefit for a candidate who has spent the general election hoping to disprove the idea that he’s an extreme war-monger. After archly questioning Obama’s toughness for months, Romney managed to position himself as a fan of guns and butter with an endorsement of foreign aid and even nation building. He seemed calm while Obama seemed hot.
It is not going to be clear until later in the week how the debate plays out with voters. Given that both sides think they won, it could be a wash that won’t change the trajectory of the race.
Third debate: Double affirmation for Obama — David Ignatius, The Washington Post
To my eyes, Obama piled up the debating points so handily that I wondered if Romney was keeping a different kind of scorecard. The GOP candidate acted like someone whose pollsters had told him he was sitting on a lead and shouldn’t risk it by saying anything that might rile anyone. Romney meekly let Obama deliver his body blows, as if confident he was so far ahead on points that all he needed to do was finish the 90 minutes and go home.
Mitt Romney wins debate season — Joe Scarborough, Politico
There is no question that Barack Obama outclassed Mr. Romney on the topic of foreign policy. The Republican nominee was nervous, his answers were formulaic and Romney seemed to be reciting scripts rather than debating foreign policy. That became even more evident when the tone shifted to domestic policy and the confidence Mitt Romney showed in Denver came shining through.
The Disastrous Foreign Policy Non-Debate Where Obama Crushed Romney — Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Forbes.com
Romney was his punching bag. Voters are low-information enough on foreign policy, and Romney is good enough at the blocking-and-tackling of political debates, that the polls may not reflect a strong Obama victory, but on the merits Obama clearly won.
In presidential debate, President Obama takes Mitt Romney to school - Roger Simon, Politico
At age 65, Mitt Romney probably thought he was done with school. But he got schooled by Obama on foreign policy at what will be their last meeting before Election Day.... Romney wasn’t terrible. But he was on the defensive for much of the evening, a fine sheen of sweat popped put on his forehead long before the debate ended, and - - worst of all - - Romney was repeatedly forced to say he agreed with Obama on policy after policy.
A last-ditch pitch to women — Irin Carmon, Salon
Both candidates know there’s a historic gender gap; both candidates have seen the data that shows that Obama’s initially massive lead with women is narrowing while Romney retains a general advantage with men. Are those women happy when they hear that Romney wants “gender equality” (his words, not mine) after the Arab Spring? Might as well try,
Obama and Romney duke it out on foreign policy — The Washington Post
No doubt Mitt Romney’s aim going in was to rise above the fray and present himself as a plausible commander in chief. President Obama was looking to make news, but his hyper-aggressive rhetoric hasn’t been a winner with voters. The result was a more subdued albeit hard-fought battle between two candidates with very different world views.
The Final Presidential Debate — The New York Times Editorial
At his worst, Mr. Romney sounded like a beauty pageant contestant groping for an answer to the final question.\
Romney Treads Water, Shifts Positions at Foreign Policy Debate —David Firestone, NYTimes.com
On substance, it was Mr. Romney’s worst performance of the three debates. He seemed constantly eager to change the subject, now agreeing with the president, now returning to the old crutch of wild charges, whatever it took to get back to his misery tour of how Mr. Obama has crushed the American economy and its spirit.
George W. Bush Won This Debate — Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast
Barack Obama didn’t win tonight’s foreign policy debate. Neither did Mitt Romney. George W. Bush did. Bush won it because the framework for understanding the world that he put in place after Sept. 11 still holds, even though it wildly distorts the world that the next president will actually face.
The ‘me, too’ debate — Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post
Well, that was a waste of time. The third and final presidential debate, held in Boca Raton, Fla., was supposed to be on foreign policy. That’s usually the native habitat of Republicans. Not Monday night, and not this presidential campaign. President Obama so owns that terrain that there appeared to be little to no daylight tonight between himself and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney won the presidential debate by looking presidential — Tim Stanley, The Telegraph
The President insulted, patronised and mocked his opponent rather than put across a constructive argument. His performance was rude and unpresidential. Obama seemed to have a touch of the Bidens, wriggling about in his chair, waving his hands dismissively and always – always – smirking in Romney’s direction. By contrast, Romney sucked up the abuse and retained a rigid poker face all night. He looked like a Commander in Chief; Obama looked like a lawyer. Who would you rather vote for?
Foreign Policy Debate Omits Most of the Globe — Josh Barro, Bloomberg
Apparently “foreign policy” has come to mean “places in the Middle East and North Africa where we are or might be bombing people, plus some really stupid and demagogic discussion of trade with China.”
Obama didn't score knockout but landed more punches — Rebecca Sinderbrand, CNN
If Romney's measured performance drew higher marks from women or the vanishingly small sliver of remaining swing voters, he might be able to maintain that momentum.
But unlike previous debates, there was a big gender gap, with women responding much more favorably to Obama's performance and men giving a small advantage to Romney.
Obama Schools Romney — David Corn, Mother Jones
Romney didn't voice one unique or intriguing idea about foreign policy. He used buzz words as crutches: He's for leadership. He's for strength. He's for peace. He's for leadership. And, by the way, he's also for strength. With the president on his game—pressing Romney repeatedly, articulating his policies effectively—Romney tried to pivot to the economy whenever he could, as he sweated through his makeup.
The zingers belonged to Obama, as Romney took the higher road — Lanny Davis, Fox News
The bottom line is that there were few if any minds changed tonight. This race was and is a dead heat.