The foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday night was set up to be a strong night for President Obama. After all, he’s Commander-in-Chief, he got Osama bin Laden, and most polls give him relatively high marks.
Yet while he performed admirably, Mitt Romney stayed with him the whole time. It was a pretty even debate but since Romney brought up the economy and was able to talk about his signature issue for nearly a third of the debate, The Brody File gives Romney the slight edge.
Clearly, Romney had a goal going into this debate. He wanted to come across presidential and let voters know that he’s up for the job. He went out of his way to try and explain the background on certain topics (eg. Pakistan’s intelligence community). He also made sure not to be too overly aggressive with the president.
That was a shrewd move by Romney who probably realized that the serious subject matter of foreign policy isn’t a place to be a bully not to mention the fact that most voters think the president is doing a pretty decent job. So for Romney, this debate wasn’t so much about winning the merits of an argument topic by topic. Rather, this was about showing the country that he knows what he’s talking about and that he comes across reasoned and informed.
With that being the case, mission accomplished. Moreover, Romney used every opportunity he could to weave in economic issues into the conversation. It’s something he needed to do and his closing argument with regards to the economy was pitch perfect.
As for President Obama, he had the look and feel of a challenger tonight. You can tell that this race has changed because the president was looking for any opportunity to go after Romney on all sorts of issues. The president was effective at making certain arguments (especially about how Romney seemed not to be too worried about getting Osama bin Laden), but he never delivered a knockout blow.
And quite frankly, after his debacle in Denver, he needed more than a solid performance. He needed to make up ground from that first debate but he never did.
Bottom line: The Brody File is giving President Obama a grade of a B. Mitt Romney gets a B+ only because he helped himself by shifting a good chunk of the debate toward the economy where he is the strongest.