FOREIGN POLICY is the topic. It’s been President Obama’s strong suit, until a blast in Benghazi gave his opponents an opening, because what the average voter knows about the nuances of foreign policy and national security, which is where policy is made, could fit in a shot glass.
As foreshadowing, Sean Hannity gave a teaser to what might be coming tonight. In the first 10 minutes of his show today he said he word “peace” more times than I’ve heard him utter it in his career. Over and over he emphasized the word “peace,” which was done in a nod to women voters, many of whom are turned off by the bellicosity of how Mitt Romney has couched expanding the Pentagon budget. The language he’s used so far brings back memories of Bush, foreign policy misadventurism, and the toll it’s taken on our economy and what’s needed at home.
If Mitt Romney makes the turn tonight to “peace through strength,” which begins at home with our own economic health, it could get very interesting for President Obama.
President Obama is the commander in chief, so he walks in with the advantage. His best gambit is to take Romney’s suggestions then pivot to say how he’s already doing what his opponent has suggested. Defending his policies must be turn into offense of what’s been accomplished: in ending the Iraq war, DADT, immigrants serving in the military for citizenship, veterans benefits, health care.
It’s a more intimate setting, with Obama and Romney sitting close to each other. It’s not a natural dynamic that works for the President. Remember Obama’s “you’re likable enough” against Hillary Clinton in 2008?
Cool rules on camera in close quarters.
Bill Kristol had the best advice for Romeney this morning on Fox News Channel. Romney needs to concentrate on looking presidential and not worry about every debate point. I’d add that he must not allow Obama to trip him into reacting.
Both men should avoid at all costs cross-talking, while keeping their disdain for each other in check. Otherwise they’ll turn off women, with younger women the most likely to say screw ’em both and not vote. That would hurt Obama a lot more than Mitt Romney.