Little Daylight Between Obama And Romney Positions In 3rd Debate

Oct 24, 2012

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had little daylight between their foreign policy positions in Monday night’s 3rd and final Presidential debate, according to Southeast Missouri State University debate coach and Communication Studies professor Larry Underberg.

“On a whole host of issues, where Romney had been very critical up until the recent past, he seemed to be backing away from some positions,” Underberg said.

Underberg cites Romney’s agreement to an Afghanistan withdrawal date, Iran sanctions and drone strikes as well as taking out Osama bin Laden without consulting Pakistan.

“I think Romney wanted to come off as far more gracious and perhaps moderate,” Underberg said. “Obama did have some difficulty trying to nail him down.”

Underberg says this strategy was a departure for Romney, who was much more aggressive in past debates. “I don’t know what the gain will be here unless Romney is banking on the fact that he would like to diffuse notions that maybe he’s a little more dangerous and aggressive on foreign policy,” Underberg said. “If the voters can come away from this thinking, ‘OK, about the same here. Let’s vote on the economy,” that’s certainly to Romney’s favor.”

In the final analysis, Underberg thinks Obama walks away as a slight winner in the third debate. Obama, he says, can use the final weeks of the campaign to talk about Romney’s shifts on several position. 

Obama won both the second and third debate, according to Underberg, but that does not make up for his abysmal performance in the first debate. Romney, he thinks, is the winner of the Presidential debates. He says it’s not quite like a baseball championship series - the candidate that wins the most games doesn’t necessarily win the series. Instead, it’s similar to playing a seven game series and the winner is the team that scores the most overall runs.

“Romney had such a huge lead that I think it’s difficult for Obama to overcome,” Underberg said. “Even though there were these small victories in debates two and three.”