Charles Krauthammer: I think it’s unequivocal, Romney won. And he didn’t just win tactically, but strategically. Strategically, all he needed to do is basically draw. He needed to continue the momentum he’s had since the first debate, and this will continue it. Tactically, he simply had to get up there and show that he’s a competent man, somebody who you could trust as commander in chief, a who knows every area of the globe and he gave interesting extra details, like the Haqqani network, which gave the impression he knows what he’s talking about. But there is a third level here, and that is what actually happened in the debate.
We can argue about the small points and the debating points. Romney went large, Obama went very, very small, shockingly small. Romney made a strategic decision not go after the president on Libya, or Syria, or other areas where Obama could accuse him of being a Bush-like war monger. Now I would have gone after Obama on Libya like a baseball bat, but that’s why Romney has won elections and I’ve never had to even contested them. He decided to stay away from the and I think that might have actually worked for him.
What he did concentrate on is the big picture. People don’t care what our policy on Syria is going to be. They care about how America is perceived in the world and how America carries itself in the world. And the high point is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around the world on an apology tour. Obama’s answer was ask any reporter and they will tell you it wasn’t so. That’s about as weak an answer you can get. And Romney’s response to quote Obama saying that, ‘we dictate to other nations,’ and Romney said, ‘we do not dictate to other nations, we liberate them.’ And Obama was utterly speechless.
So that is the large picture, America is strong and respecting. What Obama did is he kept interrupting, interjecting and his responses were almost all very small, petty attacks. The lowest was when he’s talking about sanctions that are old. ‘When I was working on sanctions you were investing in a company in China.’ I mean that is the kind of attack you expect from a guy who is running for city council for the first time, that’s not what you expect from the president. A personal attack about an investment when talking about Iran?
I thought Romney had the day. He looked presidential. The president did not. And that’s the impression I think that is going to be left.
Jonathan Alter with a rebuttal:
And there you have it.