The complete second debate
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This debate is about the economy, and on economic issues, Romney still wins.
Obama Big On Talking Points, Light On Facts
The big news, of course, will be about whether President Obama called the attack on the consulate in Benghazi a terrorist attack. The truth is that, even though Candy Crowly had President Obama's back on the issue, Obama and Crowley were both wrong. While President Obama made a vague reference to "acts of terror" in his Rose Garden speech, he stopped well short of calling the attack terrorism, and in fact spent more time during that speech referring to the YouTube video. And if the president had called the Libya attack a terrorist attack, that statement would have been directly contradicted by statements made by his UN Ambassador, as well as his own statement to the United Nations.
President Obama's fake righteous indignation just wasn't convincing to any person who has actually been listening to the president's mixed messages about the terrorist attack in Benghazi. The Obama administration made a concerted effort to blame the attacks on the YouTube video, even hauling the filmmaker in for questioning. It wasn't until much later, when it became obvious that the American people weren't buying the YouTube story in the face of the actual facts, that the Obama administration changed their story and finally acknowledged that it was a terrorist attack. Even CNN changed their story directly following the debate, with Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley both walking back Crowley's statements.
According to CNN polling of people who watched the debate, Mitt Romney won strongly on economic issues. I think that the president's repetition when it comes to the economy is coming back to bite him; most of President Obama's stated economic agenda for the next 4 years is the same as what he's already been pushing for as president, and it shows; it takes away from his credibility. And while President Obama wants to continue to paint Mitt Romney as just another George W. Bush (which seemed like a loaded question planted by CNN), the truth is that President Obama has a horrendous record on the economy, and failed to put forward a solid plan for real economic recovery.
The issue of gas prices also wasn't a winner for President Obama. People across America are continuing to feel the pain at the pump, especially here in California...but while President Obama spent a lot of time talking about fuel economy standards for cars, he didn't actually talk about what his policies will do in a substantive to help bring gas prices down, and his responses about coal and oil drilling permits were both unconvincing and untrue.
The president tried to make his policies sound like he is playing the long game on energy, but he made it abundantly clear that he has no plan to lower gas and energy prices in the short-term, and with numerous federally-subsidized green energy companies going belly-up, President Obama doesn't have it where it counts on energy policy. The fact that yet another Obama-backed green energy company - one that produced batteries for hybrid and electric cars - went under the same day as the debate was especially indicting of President Obama's rhetoric. What's more, the president somehow tried to say that gas prices were low at the end of the Bush administration because the economy was about to fail. Kind of makes you wonder what dimension the president is living in.
Overall, this was a missed opportunity for President Obama. He spent a lot of time trying to defend his record over the past four years, but he spent most of his time regurgitating the same talking points he has been repeating out on the campaign trail. He attacked Mitt Romney on several points, but he failed to lay out a real plan to help America move forward beyond the same tired class warfare rhetoric that a lot of Americans just aren't buying anymore. Most people just aren't interested in the "blame Bush" game anymore (that question was a waste of America's time). George W. Bush hasn't been president for four years, and America knows that very well.
President Obama may have won on style, but the bottom line is that this debate was a draw, and the president needed a big win to make up for his first debate failure and Vice President Biden's unattractive performance last week. The best the Left can say about the president's performance is that he energized his base - but if energizing his base constitutes a victory for the incumbent this late in the election cycle, then Mitt Romney has already won. And while the big sound bite taken from this debate will be about Libya, the big issue of this election is the economy, and when it comes to economic issues, Romney still wins.
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)