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October 22, 2012 10:33 PM Boca Debate Live-Blog III

By Ed Kilgore

* Obama coasts on Af/Pak, transitions to freeing up money for vets.

* Mitt gets direct question on cutting off Pakistan, gets wonky and responsible. Even credits Obama for right policies. Internal polls must be looking better than I would have imagined.

* Mitt dodges Bibi bombs-way! hypothetical, moves instead to America-is-weak and economic weakness/defense spending rap.

* Mitt quickly segues to “Democrat Senators” complaining about Obama’s hostility to Bibi.

* Obama goes back to foreign-policy flip-flops. Democrats demanding “aggressiveness” should be very happy. Again, if nothing else, Obama “spreading” Mitt, giving him a lot to respond to.

* Mitt bitches at “spread,” but backs off, moves on to Af/Pak.

* Mitt carefully lays out position on Afghanistan that seems to straddle the major questions.

* Romney won’t be getting any votes from people upset at use of drones.

* Mitt finally gets out full international version of “are you better off than you were four years ago” Don’t think the answer helps him, though.

* Finally off Middle East. Time for some China-bashing!

* Obama manages to get steel and tire workers in Ohio into his “fighting China” rap, plus shot at Mitt.

* Interesting. Before China-bashing, Obama said “terrorist networks” top security threat, Romney said “nuclear Iran.”

* Mitt opens soft on China, then uses same lines on America’s “resolution” and perceived “strength” as keys to dealing with China.

* Libertarians probably freaking out at Mitt’s rap.

* Obama takes nasty shots at Mitt on investments in China, auto industry, tax treatment of overseas earnings, then goes wonky.

* Mitt picks auto industry attack as the one to rebut. Don’t know who advised him to mention the word “bankruptcy.” Kinda strange Obama is interrupting him when he’s not exactly helping himself. Maybe Obama wants to run out clock on auto industry in “foreign policy debate.”

* Now we’re onto Solyndra, which gives Obama chance to respond. But he goes back to auto industry, and then general rap on Romney budget, then even back to Bush!

* Looks like Romney will close on economic referendum rap. Best he can do. And it’s by far the most effective point he’s made tonight.

* Closing statements: Obama does distilled version of Clinton convention speech, plus stressing second-term agenda without adding anything new.

* Romney: Takes about thirty second on foreign policy, then changes “economic referendum” rap into “two futures” choice, then repetition of bipartisanship pledge, which he can get away with because his party’s base doesn’t believe it.

Having not seen any tweets or spin, I thought Obama won comfortably, but mainly because Romney seems to have decided that two or three repetitions of his economic referendum rap—and showing he wasn’t a war-monger—was all that mattered.

Back in a bit after assessing what others say.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Varecia on October 22, 2012 10:40 PM:

    I almost didn't watch but I'm glad I did. I thought it was Obama's best debate so far. And I cracked up over bayonets and horses. Romney appeared really uncomfortable a lot of the time, the phoney Smirk-O-Meter going off the chart.

  • Anonymous on October 22, 2012 10:45 PM:

    Al Sharpton just pointed out, perceptively, that Romney decided to agree with Obama so much because he (Romney) didn't want to get knocked out (because he knows foreign policy is his weakest subject).

  • Sparko on October 22, 2012 10:52 PM:

    You can't spin rank hypocrisy Mitt. Just what does he believe? He'll let the Koch brothers parse that.

  • Kathryn on October 22, 2012 10:58 PM:

    Mitt Romney=Three Faces of Eve........will he get away with it. CBS poll just flashed 53% thought Obama won, 23% won with undecided voters.

  • Kathryn on October 22, 2012 11:02 PM:

    That is 23%. thought Mitt won, the rest undecided or a tie, I guess

  • Celui on October 22, 2012 11:08 PM:

    Once again, the 'real MItt' doesn't self-disclose. A shadowy man with few long-term convictions, and highly given to political expediency. A clumsy neophyte in international relations, with a penchant for over-statement based on hearsay. The world is NOT a safer place with a Romney presidency, and we can see that. No substance, no demonstrated ability to want to seek a common good, no evident desire to work with others. How can the American electorate possibly consider this candidate? Maybe Mitt should simply decline to continue this charade.

  • Nick on October 22, 2012 11:23 PM:

    'Internals better than you thought'? Come on, Ed -- are you angling for a pundit gig? Mittmentum? Maybe he's just a clueless tool!

  • Joe Friday on October 22, 2012 11:39 PM:

    During their so-called 'fact-checking' on ABC, Jonathan Karl said that Obama was wrong, that Willard never claimed he wanted to send 20,000 troops back to Iraq, which Obama never claimed.

    Willard DID INDEED say that Obama should have left between 10,000 and 30,000 troops in Iraq, which IS what Obama claimed.

    During their so-called ‘fact-checking’ on ABC, Jonathan Karl said that Obama was wrong, that Willard never claimed he wanted to send 20,000 troops back to Iraq, which Obama never claimed.

    Except Willard DID INDEED say that Obama should have left between 10,000 and 30,000 troops in Iraq, which IS what Obama claimed.

    Somebody needs to fact-check Jonathan Karl and ABC News.

  • John Mallinckrodt on October 22, 2012 11:51 PM:

    Maybe I'm missing something but is there a single non-nuclear country that isn't "four years closer to a nuclear weapon" today than they were four years ago? What the hell does that mean?

  • Yellow dog on October 22, 2012 11:53 PM:

    Romney thinks China wants world to be 'free and open'? Did I hear that right?

  • Varecia on October 23, 2012 12:24 AM:

    John Mallinckrodt on October 22, 2012 11:51 PM:

    "Maybe I'm missing something but is there a single non-nuclear country that isn't "four years closer to a nuclear weapon" today than they were four years ago? What the hell does that mean?"

    Yes, it struck me as a nonsensical remark. Maybe it was the phrasing, but it seemed like Romney was saying the problem was the passage of time itself rather than nuclear development occurring over time.

  • SBcardinal on October 23, 2012 12:40 AM:

    Thanks for covering the debate, Ed. I was at an event I couldn't dodge, and was sneaking peaks at your liveblog under my napkin. The replay just started, and I'm going to watch for myself.

  • Hue and Cry on October 23, 2012 1:00 AM:

    Mitt really looked like 'Evader Man' as the president inflicted capital punishment with administrative expertise .... a spectacle for the Mitt, who showed no executive potential, once and for all. Espousing nothing, sweating a lot.

    A sterling and praiseworthy night for the president.

    Mitt's mantra for the night:

    "Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes." ~~~~~Robert M. Hutchins