Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard — who will help the John Locke Foundation analyze election results during a Nov. 15 Headliner luncheon in Raleigh — delivers this assessment after the third and final presidential debate:
Mitt Romney’s aim was to present himself with the demeanor and grasp of foreign and national security issues of a president of the United States. He succeeded. President Obama sought to make Romney appear unqualified to be president and commander in chief. He failed. And that was the story of the third and final presidential debate.
This may or may not give the Romney campaign a boost, but it won’t hurt. Romney wasn’t stumped or forced on the defensive on any issue. He committed no gaffes. As the challenger, Romney didn’t need to “win” the debate—he only needed to hold his own against Obama’s deeper knowledgeable, sharp criticism, and occasional irritation. And he did.
Romney made a point of not bickering with Obama. He didn’t quibble about the administration’s failure to give a consistent explanation of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September. His disagreements with Obama on Syria, Afghanistan, terrorism, Egypt, and China were either slight or non-existent.
Putting distance between himself and Obama on policy wasn’t his game. Nor was his approach to Monday night’s debate especially combative, though he was critical of Obama’s “leadership.” It was to put himself in the best possible light by offering plans of his own and specific details on every issue.