Things are not going well for the Obama campaign. Monday's debate on foreign policy was perhaps Obama's last chance to change the dynamic of the race which has favored Romney since the first debate in which Romney effectively neutered the hundreds of millions Obama spent on negative ads trying to paint Romney as unfit to be President.
At the end of the debate Obama hugged First Lady Michelle. The expression on Obama's face says it all:
|Did Obama whisper: "Start packing honey," as he hugs Michelle |
and appears to sense the grim reality that his re-election is slipping away!
Obama's attacks were petty, personal insults that made him look small next to Romney who rose above it all and appeared calm, cool, collected, civil and competent. Two examples: First, Obama criticized Romney's foreign policy: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years." Ouch! When Romney criticized Obama's cuts to the U.S. Navy Obama snarked again: “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines."
Is that the kind of bitter partisan attitude we expect from a Commander in Chief?
In a third instance Obama distorted Romney's view on whether Russia or Al Queda is the bigger foe. Romney responded: "attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we're going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East."
Snap polls taken immediately after the debate may have given Obama the win but dig deeper and the troubling signs for the Obama campaign are all too apparent. In the PPP poll which gave Obama a slight edge Independents were asked whether the debate made them more or less likely to vote for Obama or Romney: Obama 32 more/48 less. Romney 47 more/35 less. That exact flip is more bad news and shows that Independents, who have largely abandoned Obama are unlikely to come back after last night. Even more telling was the CNN poll in which respondents were roughly split on the Commander in Chief question: "Can Obama handle job of Cmdr. in Chief? Yes: 63%. Can Romney? Yes: 60%."
The biggest win of the evening for Romney is that he passed the "Commander in Chief test". Even Chuck Todd, the MSNBC doyenne of the media left establishment declared that Obama's attempt to "disqualify Mitt Romney" has failed and now the burden is on Obama to prove he's up to the job. That's not the best position for an incumbent president to be in two weeks before the election.
Students of political history are reminded of another close election when a Republican challenger broke into a commanding lead following the debates: