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The Final 2012 Presidential Debate: Open Forum

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 23, 2012 9:19 AM |

With the final official debate of the 2012 Presidential campaign now in the rear view mirror, the candidates will now engage in an all out sprint to the finish line on November 6th.

I personally believe that the length and costs of these campaigns are  hugely unproductive for our country. Why is it that Washington is so dysfunctional? Politicians from the White House to Capitol Hill seem stuck in perpetual campaign mode. Well, that is a topic for a different day.

How do readers feel about last night’s debate? Who won? Who lost? What did you learn? 

I believe Governor Mitt Romney was very strategically playing for the women’s vote by trying to convey a sense of seriousness in his delivery without sending a message that he is trigger happy as some on the Democratic side would want us to believe. I also believe that President Obama benefits more from having access to “inside info” on the topic of foreign policy than on prior debates focused on domestic policy.

Did Romney rise above the fray by not challenging President Obama on the course of events and the public messages put forth regarding the tragedy in Benghazi? Did Obama “school” Romney on the advancements in technology in military defense or did he come across as condescending if not outright obnoxious?

How do you think the moderator Bob Schieffer handled things? His questions covered the following topics:

1. Libya specifically and policy in the Middle East at large.

2. The tragic situation engulfing Syria and how the United States should proceed.

3. Should the United States have supported the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

4. What is America’s role in the world. (The candidates both addressed their domestic agendas and connected them to our position of influence in the world.)

5. The size, scope, and state of our military? President Obama’s comments regarding the use of horses and bayonets in this exchange evoked strong partisan responses from both camps.

6. Our support for Israel and the unsettled dynamic at play between Israel and Iran. How should the United States manage Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. Romney took a shot at the President for what the challenger defined as his apology tour. The President responded with an impassioned description of a trip to Israel while a candidate for the Presidency back in 2008.

7. China. How to manage this “frienemy”.  During this exchange the conversation swerved to Governor’s Romney proposal to put the automotive industry through a managed bankruptcy. For those interested in this topic, I welcome linking to the governor’s op-ed piece and specifically highlighting that despite what our President might like to say and asserted even last night, the governor actually wrote,

The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.

I welcome providing the Transcript of the Final 2012 Presidential Debate, Part 1 and Part 2

There you have it. Who won this debate? If we were to collectively score all three debates, who came out ahead? What questions and responses resonated with you and what reviled you?

Have you made up your mind? Have you changed your stance?

Who do you think will be the next President of the United States of America and leader of the free world?

Thoughts, color, and constructive commentary is encouraged and appreciated.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Bill

    If there had been any question as to who had been ahead in the polls going into last night’s debate, any doubt was dispelled by the manner in which each handled the questions posed by moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News. President Obama was contentious, persistently interrupting Mr. Romney; he was on the attack most of the night. The question for the public: was he properly aggressive or simply boorish? Governor Romney, knowing that the trajectory of recent polling favored his candidacy, was determined to portray himself as moderate, sober and presidential. Again, the question: did he succeed?

    Yesterday was the third act in the Presidential debates. Mercifully, we are now only two weeks away from the election. Other than the media, whose coffers have been swollen by the, literally, billions of dollars in ad spending, the rest of the country is exhausted from too much exposure to disingenuous politicians – who, because of our peculiar primary system, must appeal to a few outliers at the expense of the rest of us.

    Despite the New York Times suggesting that the two rivals offer “starkly different views of the world,” the truth of the matter is that the differences are not that great when it comes to foreign affairs. Both men have the safety and security of the American people as their first priority. Both recognize the changing dynamics in the Pacific region, and both see the need to get Iran to stop their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The differences are more in form than in substance. Supporters of both men came away comfortable their man had won.

    Lynn University, in Boca Rotan, was the venue for the final debate. While the college is relatively young – its roots go back to 1962 – has a relatively small student body (2049 enrolled for 2012) and a low graduation rate (33% in 2007), it holds the record for the highest paid college president. In 2006, the last year of his thirty-five year presidency, Donald Ross was paid $5,738,422. His son, Kevin, is the current president. As an aside, it is curious that none of the debates have been held at one of the nation’s fine public state universities; they all have been held at private colleges with annual costs ranging from $48,000 at Lynn University and Hofstra University to $55,000 at the University of Denver – highlighting the reality of the cost of an education.

    The line many Democrats seemed to like was when the President appeared to be giving a lesson on modern military weaponry to Mr. Romney, when he said that bayonets are no longer used in the army. Thus bayonets join binders and Big Bird as part of Democrats’ lexicon. (Not surprisingly, the President seemed unaware that the Marine Corps still uses bayonets and that the OKC-35 bayonet replaced the M-7 and M-9 in 2003. (One of my favorite lines – and the only time I laughed out loud – was when the Mr. Obama said, “…and we have ships that go under water – you know, nuclear submarines.”)

    It was interesting that early on, Mr. Romney did not take the bait about Benghazi. It was a ploy by the President and an obvious, deliberate plan by the Governor not to stoop to gutter politics. The crime, and I suspect there was one, as to what happened in Benghazi on September 11th was one of a cover-up – difficult to discuss in a debate on foreign policy. As I watched the debate, it seemed to me that Mr. Romney was smart to keep the discourse more elevated. Gutter politics are better suited to Chicago politicians than to Northeastern moderate Republicans.

    Mr. Obama has obviously been listening to his close friend and political advisor, David Axelrod. He repeated ad nauseam his memorized lines: “Governor, you are all over the map.” “This is not the 1980s or the 1950s.” The President attempted to portray Mr. Romney as reckless and invoked the names of Dick Cheney and George Bush in the hopes that some of their bellicosity fame would rub off on the contender. Mr. Romney wouldn’t stoop. He responded at one point, “Attacking me is not an agenda.” As one commentator put it, “Mr. Romney went large; Mr. Obama went small.” When the Governor confronted the President about his ‘apology trip’ to the Middle East early in his Presidency (when he spoke in Cairo and, infamously, bowed to the Saudi king, but avoided going to Israel) Mr. Obama petulantly responded, “I haven’t apologized.”

    Among my more favorite lines from Mitt Romney were: “We do not dictate to other nations; we liberate them,” and in regard to Mr. Putin: “I won’t give you so much flexibility after my election.”

    In terms as to who won, both sides claimed victory. Democrats liked the more aggressive Mr. Obama, while Republicans seemed to feel that their man appeared competent and unflappable. If this were a fight, I would have given the first rounds to Mr. Obama and the latter ones to Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama, burdened by his domestic record had to be on the attack. But, in his persistent interruptions, did he come across as defensive? Mr. Romney needed to come across as a thoughtful Commander-in-Chief. He did not want to get into a fight, especially one sought by the more belligerent Mr. Obama.

    Over the next few days, we will see what the polls will show. The goal of both men is to corral the undecided voter. I suspect both achieved what they wanted. My guess is that the debate did not alter the trajectory of the path Mr. Romney appears to be on. In my opinion, this is a critical election. The country is in an economic and fiscal downward spiral. As Mr. Romney pointed out, heavy debt owed to foreign creditors and a weak economy at home limit our abilities to influence events overseas. That becomes the crux of the election.

  • Ron

    The best line of the debate actually came later on a tweet from a US Marine who said to remind Obama that the Marines still use bayonets.

    Semper Fi!!

  • fred

    Foreign affairs is an important component of presidential responsibility, therefore it does belong within the debate format, the question, how best to moderate a debate with an inherent bias favoring the President?

    The solution would seem to have the moderator asking the President questions concerning his handling of high profile foreign affair situations and then allowing the challenger to expound on how he would have handled it differently.

    I was impressed by Romney when he brought up the issue of our South American trading partners and also when he discussed why Pakistan, in particular, is strategically important because they already have over 100 “armed and ready” nuclear warheads.

    The reality today is that many nations now have or will soonhave nuclear warhead capability, how will we react when provoked? Taking out bin laden and imposing econmic sanctions on a “non-nuclear” Iran were easy decisions in comparison.

    As an undecided independant, after watching all three debates, I am more inclined to vote for Romney because he seems to understand the economy better (both domestic and international), has a better grasp of the founding principals of this great nation and would appear to have the strength of character necessary to manage the unknown unknowns of foreign affairs in times of crisis.

  • Ed

    I think voting is too difficult and too infrequent. I’d be happy to vote more often. These should be public service jobs, not careers. This would more closely identify who is accountable. This will limit the scope of government because of disincentives a shorter termed less powerful politician will have to special interest groups.

    The entire voting system is archaic and broken and is not comprehensible to anyone… Except those with the incentive to manipulate it. Furthermore the art and science of getting elected is the opposite of the original natural and honest intention and it is certainly not a popular vote. So one of these party’s comes in first place, the other is second and we come in last!

  • Annie

    One thing I noticed in last night’s debate was that Obama burned Bob Woodward…twice. I am wondering if the reporters who have been so fond of Obama may be waking up to the fact that Obama would willingly burn them, too.

    Both Obama’s comment on Pakistan, where he said if we asked Pakistan if we could get bin laden, they would have said no and the comment on sequestration, burned Woodward. The comment on Pakistan is true on its face, but deceiving none the less. Obama wanted to look tough on a nuclear state. It plays well, with those on the left. The problem is, the Obama administration had gotten permission to “kill the seniors” in al qaeda long ago. That is in Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars” in chapter 3.

    The whole sequestration issue…Obama bungled that, too, as he burned Bob Woodward. I personally was stunned by Obama’s remarks that “it would not happen”. When did we lose our checks and balances and become a dictatorship? Obama acted as though he can override Congress!

    • Annie

      AH! I understand now why Obama didn’t want to admit that his administration pushed for sequestration, then Obama claimed it wouldn’t happen, even though they had pushed Congress for it.

      They were willing to break the law (WARN ACT) and not notify over 200,000 people that they were going to lose their jobs because of it. Cheaper to pay the fines than lose the election.

      Another area Obama thought he had “more flexibility” after the election.

  • Cindy

    The final debate was very good. I thought the monitor was much more fair to both sides (unlike the previous two monitors who were obvious in siding with Obama). And once again, I think Gov. Romney won.

    After this final debate, I think Romney will win the Presidency. Gov. Romney comes across as very knowledgeable on all issues discussed, seems to have a good memory for accuracy, unlike Obama. That was very apparent in last night’s debate. Obama sometimes seemed to outright lie, or else seemed to be kept isolated and insulated by his staff on important details of certain subjects. There were incidences where Obama seemed in the dark on subjects and his statements made one wonder what he was talking about, if he (Obama) was going to go off on a tangent with a story about his mother or grandmother rather than give a direct answer.

    I was glad Romney addressed Obama’s “apology tour” and called it just that, and then stated his own (Romney’s) stand on how the US needs to be in the world and the fact that has not been the case these last 4 years, but that world views of the US have actually diminished in the last 4 years. It was Obama’s lack of urgency about Iran’s nuclear production that reviled me, and Romney’s stand against allowing such that resonated with me. I thought Obama’s comment on horses and bayonets was childish, as well as obnoxious.

    After these three debates, if Obama was not already President, I don’t think he could ever get voted into office. And I wonder now, how Obama got voted into office 4 years ago.

  • Dennis

    Geez, I hate to be so cynical, but Romney emphasized his points of agreement with Obama so much, as one wag put it, if you gave him a few more minutes he would have endorsed the President.

    Makes me think Romney is playing the race card: “I’m the white Obama.” . ..

    • LD


      I do not think you have to worry about that. I personally think Romney was looking at the one demographic that he needs to move his way —that is, women, — and he nuanced his comments to appeal to them. Make Mom think that Romney is going to help the family on the jobs front without sending Johnny off to war and he can get her vote.

  • Tom

    In regard to foreign affairs, what do you make of this sweetheart deal in Iraq for VP Joe Biden’s brother?

    James Biden isn’t a big name in the business of residential housing development, so what exactly qualifies him to work at a construction company and share in the winnings of a $1.5 billion project to build affordable homes in Iraq?

    If you said it has something to do with his last name, the one shared by his older brother Vice President Joe Biden, you wouldn’t be far off. At least that’s the guess of some Wall Street analysts who cover the Marlton, NJ-based company Hill International and think they’ve seen yet another sordid tale of crony capitalism.

    Hill has been around for decades; its main business is managing construction projects in the Middle East and here in America. It’s built a good reputation over the years, as has the father-son team who run it, Irv and David Richter.

    But the bursting of the real-estate bubble took its toll; Hill shares are down 80 percent since 2008. Since 2011, the company has reported losses. Its Middle East business has also been stymied by the Arab Spring uprisings; in Libya alone, Hill is out $60 million in payments that it’s still trying to recover.

    But it got some good news not long after its housing subsidiary hired James Biden as an executive vice president in late 2010. Just six months later, Hill won one of its biggest contracts ever, a $1.5 billion deal to build at least 100,000 affordable homes in Iraq.

    A good deal for Hill, a relative newcomer to building homes — and for James Biden, who as one partner will get a good share of that $1.5 billion.

    The deal is contingent on the Iraqi government providing financing, which it has yet to do, but Hill execs tell analysts the money could start flowing by the end of the year. That’s when everyone involved, James Biden included, will start collecting on tens of millions of dollars in profits.

    One friend of James Biden’s estimates his net worth at around $7 million, yet he seems to have a remarkable lack of concrete business experience. An attorney who’s done work for him called him a “serial entrepreneur,” but didn’t name the startups he was responsible for.

    Hill chief Irv Richter called Biden a “good salesman” and the firm’s Web site describes “40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally.”

    (James Biden also had a relatively short and somewhat controversial run as a co-owner of a hedge-fund company with Joe’s son Hunter. The company, as it turns out, was marketed by companies controlled by now convicted Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford. Neither Biden was charged, but the fund company is now winding down its operations.)

    No, James Biden’s obvious value comes from his connection to the Obama administration. Richter assures me that James’ ties to Joe played no part in landing the plum assignment in Iraq or any of the other government-related jobs Hill has received recently.

    Really? Connect these dots: Both the Iraqi government and the Obama State Department played roles in helping Hill win the assignment, Richter concedes. And Joe Biden is President Obama’s point man on Iraq — a country where people expect politicians’ families to be “taken care of.”

    Also key is TRAC Development, a South Korean firm that won the master contract for the Iraq work. And — huh! — James Biden and his wife were guests of President Obama and Michelle for last October’s state dinner honoring the president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak.

    All one big coincidence?

    Well, Richter insists that, while Biden’s name and connections might open doors when government business is on the line, that doesn’t guarantee success. “If he had the name Obama, he would get in the door easier,” Richter joked.

    During this month’s vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden told Americans to just ignore all that stimulus money that went to administration-connected failures like Solyndra. Crony capitalism, he insisted, hardly exists with Joe Biden and Barack Obama watching the store.

    Maybe that’s why the veep, after making that dopey statement, was laughing so much that night.

    Crony Capitalism and Joe Biden’s Brother

  • Susan

    I must say that the comments to your article are very impressive. This debate was less than 10 min. from my house. Traffic down here has been crazy and the restaurants packed, hopefully good for the economy.

    The big winners of course is the media, politicians etc, not the little guy. Very few of the public could even see the debate live. The roads around the college were closed for 24 hours. The President went to Delray Beach this morning. I heard the roads in the most active part of Delray were closed most of the day.

    In my opinion, Romney’s remark about over bearing regulation in the 2nd debate was a winner for me. The problem is, it takes Congress and Senate to get change, not the President.

    Anyway, great article, great participation.

  • James

    Couldn’t agree more Larry, well written.

    When Mitt leaned towards O and said, “attacking me isn’t policy…”, I just loved it.

    Anyway, I pray Mitt’s the next POTUS and we can get this squirreled up liquidity loose and get this economy back on track. I would have brought up Corzine and his example of cronie’s at work & how that has weakened America’s respect via foreign policy.

    I honestly would have shredded his ass and if the women didn’t like the violence then so be it.

    There, now you know why I’m not running or would…ever, there’d be a homicide…mine! The Corzine topic would have been so left field that O would have shit a brick.

    Anyway, I saw how O’s campaign just borrowed $15mm from BofA? Uh…didn’t O save their pathetic asses too? This country has serious issues Larry the media talks up “war on women”?, abortion? wtf is goin on here.

    Keep up the good work,

  • Annie

    Another thought on the debate….

    I kept praying, before the debate that Romney really did his homework on Syria. He didn’t let me down! He understands the geography and the importance of Syrian influence. But the biggest thing to me was whether or not he understood the dynamics at work inside Syria. He obviously does. The left has a way of dumbing down the issues so they can use “the Arab Spring” to their advantage. Call for the downfall of dictators, then rejoice at “democracy”, even if that democracy has put the radical Muslim Brotherhood in power.

    I think the left, especially, views women as being one issue voters, dumb ones at that. And I think both sides underestimate the issues that independent women study in order to make their decisions.

    This “war on women” issue only plays well with the far left, and I would venture a guess that that tactic has lost them votes, rather than gained any.

  • Shannon

    I thought Romney’s Ali-esque Rope-a-Dope strategy was safe and assured him a draw with the president, which is all he needed at this point. He wasn’t going to TKO him on foreign policy. I do think he should have politely challenged him on a few more issues. Not meeting with Netanyahu would’ve been fair, but it just would’ve given Obama an opportunity to spin it. On bin Laden, I keep waiting for Romney to say: “Mr. President, you keep saying that kiling bin Laden was one of the toughest decisions of your presidency. Sir, killing bin Laden was a great accomplishment for your administration and the administrations before yours, for the military, and for the American people. Yes, it was a great accomplishment and a benefit to the world as a whole, but Mr. President, killing bin Laden was not a tough decision.”

    • Annie

      WOW! I’d love to hear him say that,too!

  • Viscuiste
  • Quentin

    So Susan Rice has withrawn her name from consideration for Sec of State. President Obama lashed out at critics suggesting they hold him responsible for Benghazi not Ms. Rise.

    Well Mr. President I do hold you responsible, it was you who let Ms. Rice take the fall for your administration’s coverup of the military non-response in Benghazi.

    Clearly a CIA director, expert in counter insurgency who had previously ordered intelligence analysts to give greater weight to the opinions of “troops in the fight”, would have created a communication network capable of providing an accurate portrayal of the events on 9-11-12 right up the CIA chain of command to the Office of the President.

    Irreguardless, the directive received for guns “at the ready”, stand down.

    If truth be told, democratic operatives within the CIA chain of command, were directed to “sugar coat” talking points for Ms. Rice to share with the American public.

    And where was Ms. Rice’s immediate superior in these matters? Again truth be told, Secretary Clinton had previously requested and then been denied a stronger military reinforcement presence for American foreign affairs personnel in Lybia prior to the attack. On 9-11-12, Sec Clinton, was in all liklihood, not even “in the loop” concerning the Benghazi attack.

    So Mr. President, you were re-elected, probably in no small part, with the help of the Benghazi coverup. Congratulations.

    I bet Santa will be very generous to Leon, Martin, Valarie, Jennifer and Susan this year.

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