The problem for Obama is that he needed a home run, not just a draw. He needed to gain a big big big bump from this debate not only to make up for the last one, but to make up for what he will lose in the next one on foreign policy.
The next debate is going to be one giant talk about foreign policy, and since Mitt Romney doesn’t have a foreign policy record for comparison, it will be a lot of talk about how he would do things differently from Obama and how Obama has done things wrong. Obama will likewise be talking about his foreign policy, but since the only real ‘win’ for Obama has been killing Osama bin Laden, it’s not going to hold the fort against everything else that has happened.
For possible topics on foreign policy missteps there are tons to pick from. It may include Syria and nuclear technology, issues with N.Korea, poor support of Israel, Fast & Furious, Libya and 33 countries with groups rioting and picketing against our embassies, why it took the white house almost 2 weeks to realize that it had nothing to do with the video when most news-armchair Americans knew that the day it happened, and with this new testimony going on that there was apparently a fully recorded 6 hour video and audio from the Libyan embassy during the attack that was listened to live by our state department and the inevitable question of how did we not manage to scramble some help to them while they managed to keep their attackers at bay for 6 hours before they finally broke through?
In a nutshell, debate three is lost to Obama before it starts.
What I wonder is who will even watch the foreign policy debate? I know that there are lots of Americans who believe that they cannot understand foreign policy, that it is too complicated, and they won’t know enough to even know if what is being said is accurate or not. All these foreign sounding names are confusing to them, and they just lump all those places into one big place called ‘the Middle East’ which is in some generally hot and often difficult to pinpoint location on a map. Now obviously Americans CAN learn about foreign policy, but for many of them it’s simply too far removed from their daily lives to spend time worrying about. They have the Cliffs notes version of “there are a lot of people who hate us and want to kill us and we try to stop them” and they’re perfectly content with that summary of facts.
I think that a large amount of voters who watched the first debates are going to skip the last one. Except, of course, the political junkies and the people who are already concerned about foreign policy.
People are going to vote on the economy, that’s all there is to it.