What Will Happen AFTER Last Night
You might not think so after debate #1. I caught a number of liberal laments on Facebook and Twitter. They were angry (yeah, I know, they’re always angry) that Lehrer didn’t jump in and keep the thing on a safe Indaba plain, where the President could teach and Gov. Romney be curtly tolerated.
Romney seemed prepared for that and his assertiveness last night was a welcome corrective. But the first debate’s questions were mostly about the economy, the area where the President is particularly weak. His very first answer was all the hollow stuff about what “I inherited.” He stopped just short of using the Bush name, and even that would have had more substance than most of his verbal wanderings.
The upcoming debates, however, will need to get into foreign policy and domestic social issues. By stacking those issues later, the format favors the President.
On foreign policy, the President will cite the killing of Osama bin Laden. He can also play up the fact that Romney was just a state governor, with no foreign policy experience - although no candidate ever comes into the Presidency with very much of that. Still, it plays well to have the slayer of international terror masters vs. a challenger with most of his achievements on smallish plots of domestic soil.
Then there are the social issues. The media could very well end the debates with a question about “the Repbulican war on women.” GOP candidates are notoriously bad about answering abortion questions, unwilling to take the strong position of affirming the God-given right to life. They can end up talking all around the issue, trying to toss in a pro-life platitude for their anxious base, and looking pretty much like they would like the whole issue (and maybe the anxious base as well) to just go away. This sets the President up to make lofty proclamations about freedom, empowerment and entitlements for all.
I could be wrong, but Romney seemed on the edge of a pro-life statement during his closing remarks, then seemed to veer away from it. He’ll have to be clear when “women’s issues” (will somebody ever explain that life is a human issue?) come up.
Romney will need to have as much thought and preparation to address foreign and domestic social issues as he did for last night’s economy questions, or it will be the President coming out of the last debate looking “on” as the media hand him back the momentum.
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