Presidential debates come to contentious conclusion

Don K. Hotey/Flickr

After three crucial and confrontational contests, debate season is finally over. The final debate, intentioned to be focused solely on foreign policy and housed in Boca Raton, Florida, was seen as the final pitch for both candidates to reach millions upon millions of voters at once. Now only 13 days, 14 hours, 14 minutes, and roughly eight seconds at the time of writing this, for both campaigns to prepare for election day and kick into full and final gear. Gavel Media presents it's lessons learned from Monday night's, Oct. 22, thankfully final, presidential debate.

Complete presidential debate

Romney's final lurch to the center

After months of campaigning for the Republican nomination during the primary season, Mitt Romney was forced to take some hard-right positions largely out of the realm of popular opinion. Chief among these was Romney’s insistence on not setting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan a position that even his Vice Presidential running-mate Paul Ryan maintained during his own debate a few weeks ago.

(New York Times Interactive fact-check of third debate)

Romney clearly went back on his past assertions regarding a timetable being set. “Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014, and when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014,” he said.

Apart of an effort by both sides to capture those final undecided voters, located mainly in Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Florida, among a few others, Romney’s strategy may ultimately pay off.

The candidates agreed on an awful lot

Both candidates apparently struck a consensus on multitude of divisive topics: the war in Afghanistan, economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran, the foreign intervention in Libya that led to the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and the executive branches continual drone strikes in foreign nations such as Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

 

It seemed that there was very little distance between the two candidates despite their differing party statuses. This lead to the panicked reaction of  members of the conservative right. "He's [Romney] sounding LIKE Obama. This is terrible," Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, tweeted. It was certainly a departure from the previous debates when the candidates could not agree on, among other particular matters of fact, whether the embassy attacks in Libya were acts of terror.

In a debate about Foreign Policy, of course, the economy came up

Despite the Commission on Presidential Debate’s focus being placed on the international scene and America’s place in it, both candidates took time to bring up the American economy.  As the number one issue in this election, it was an issue that needed to be brought up.

(CNNMoney: Auto Bailout if Romney had his way)

Turning to the auto bailout of American car companies, General Motors and Chrysler, Barack Obama attacked Romney’s Op-Ed piece that called for no government assistance and an allowance for the process of bankruptcy to take place. Citing the success of both companies due to the government bailout, Obama made Romney look unconcerned with the average worker at one of these plants. Romney was also made to look like a president that would have enabled, if not encouraged,  the respective downfalls of these companies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PE5V4Uzobc

Romney said that  his Op-Ed did indeed call for government assistance. It appears that he set standards for these companies to meet which would have made it very difficult for both manufacturers to receive any assistance at all.

Obama had a few “zingers” of his own

Skip to 5:30 to hear an explanation of 'Romnesia'

Madeleine Dogg

When the discussion turned to the Navy, Romney said that the force as it currently stands is “smaller now than at any time since 1917.”  Eliciting laughter from the crowd, Obama said in response, “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed . . . And so the question is not a game of Battleship."

These quips silenced the matter of the Navy for the night, and seemed to swing the temporary momentum into Obama’s favor.

Romeny also brought up Israel. “When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem—the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable,” Obama said in response to Romney.

The format limited the fireworks

Forced to sit at a table and separated by only a few feet, the candidates reduced the heated flair from last week's contest, in which they walked around the stage unencumbered and regularly strutted towards one another.

Locked in their seats, talks were certainly pointed, but not nearly to the levels of last week when it seemed that the nominees would actually respect the old metaphor of these debates resembling boxing matches- and bring their gloves to the fray. This debate focused more on policy than the visual show, forcing an informative discussion to bleed through and win the most attention.

 

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James Cody