Here's the good news for Mitt Romney. He held his own on the foreign policy stage and demonstrated a good knowledge of world affairs. The bad news is, so did President Obama and at the end of the day, voters will have to decide, do they go with someone who has been there and done that, or someone who has not?
The third and final debate was the best of the three on a number of fronts. The verbal slashing between the two was kept to a minimum, we saw some clear differences, and the moderator actually asked some specific questions which drew specific answers.
Example: The worst threat to this country? Mr. Obama said terrorists. Mr. Romney opined a nuclear Iran.
However American voters are not nearly as engaged or impressed with foreign affairs as they are with the economy which is why the sneaky candidates both found sneaky ways to weave that issue into their discussion of world peace.
That produced nothing new as both lapsed into their sound bites that, at this juncture, everyone has heard a million times. Yes, Mr. President we know you think Mr. Romney abandoned the U.S. auto industry and yes, Mr. Romney we know you are a "car guy" and would not have liquidated the industry. Yawn. Yawn.
The conservatives will not be very happy with their guy for agreeing too many times with what the president has been doing. While Mr. Romney was effective in drawing contrasts, the line, "the President did the right thing," will cost him points with his base.
However such candidness could win him points with independent voters who appreciate a candidate who is willing to give credit where credit is due. But it also sent the message that the incumbent president is doing something right which he gleefully acknowledged in thanking Mr. Romey for his support.
While the president remained on his game for the second debate in a row, he again missed that golden opportunity to tie a ribbon on this foreign policy exchange.
He should have concluded with this, and with female voters this would have resonated loud and clear, "When you go to bed tonight, whom do you trust to protect this country and keep American safe; someone who has made the tough decisions or someone who can only talk about it?
Mr. Romney left the impression that he thought he could do a better job, but his critics will contend, he can't prove it.
Perhaps the good news for the challenger is, foreign policy will probably not decide this election.