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Experts React to Final Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney squared off in their final debate Monday. GoLocalWorcester asked Massachusetts experts and opinion makers to weigh in with their thoughts.

Robert Boatright, Associate Professor of Political Science, Clark University:

"Oddly, Romney seemed to have gotten the same sort of message Obama got before the first debate – don’t attack, don’t be aggressive. The strategy worked a little better for Romney, but not much. Obama clearly had Romney on the defensive for the first hour. Romney stopped the bleeding towards the end, but by that point I’m not sure anyone was watching.

"It's hard for the challenger to get better than a draw on foreign policy issues, so if the candidates did lose viewers, that's to Romney's benefit. Once it became evident that the candidates wanted to try to shoehorn awkward points about domestic policy into whatever questions they received, I suspect that the Giants-Cardinals game became more attractive to many viewers."

Grace Ross, Former Candidate for Governor, Progressive Leader and GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™:

"Tonight's debate showed little meaningful distance in their foreign policy positions - Romney was taking both more of a peacemaker approach - citing UN redevelopment principles and the role of women, while also jarringly trying to seem more of a hawk in specific situations. Obama took center stage from when they shook hands onward - as the President and the guy who already has things in hand.

"Romney pointed out the failing economy - but continues to avoid Bush Jr. as if he never existed. But of course, he lays out a huge overspending plan while saying no to taxing those who can afford it. Obama framed Romney's answer well as the apparent financial impossibility that it is, just as on foreign policy he pointed to Romney's wishy-washing his positions at different times - particularly dangerous on foreign policy.

"As they say, the real problem for a politician is when you get painted for exactly what's true of you: that's almost impossible to shake. Obama managed real examples of real Americans while Romney tripped over trying to name real examples.

"Massachusetts knows Romney is completely changeable - does the rest of the country? And what about the Obama we get - is it the seasoned but still passionate candidate from four years ago? Or the guy who struggled to get major stuff done when his party was the majority of both houses of Congress - and he jettisoned key campaign promises?"

Rob Eno, Editor of Red Mass Group and GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™:

"Once again Mitt Romney showed a path for a most prosperous future. Romney was spot on in saying that our debt is one of the largest national security problems we face. The only way to a stronger foreign policy is a strong and prosperous America at home.

"Romney also knows that America must once again be that shining city on a hill, that America must never apologize for our principles, and that America leads best when it leads by example. Romney succesfully made the case that the foreign policy of Barack Obama leads to a less secure, and less free nation at home. The more we are indebted to our enemies monetarily, the less free and less secure we are.

"I expect we will see the trend we've seen over the past three weeks with the aftermath of this debate. Romney will continue to build on his lead, and ride his momentum to the White House."

Morgan Marietta, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UMass-Lowell:

"Both men avoided any major gaffes, but Obama was the more dominant speaker. Romney failed to draw a clear distinction between the two on security in Libya, support for Israel, and a more forceful policy toward Iran.

"The question will be whether this debate will move the polls. Like the second debate, a marginal victory without major headlines may not help Obama's position in the race, leaving it dead even heading into election day."

Mathew Helman, Communications Director of ProgressMass and GoLocalWorcester Guest MINDSETTER™:

"More than two-thirds of Mitt Romney's foreign policy team come straight out of the George W. Bush Administration. That much was clear in Romney's answers during tonight's foreign policy debate.

"If 2013 features a President Mitt Romney, rubber-stamped by a Republican Senator Scott Brown and a right-wing Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, we can be guaranteed to return to the failed foreign policies of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neo-cons that got us mired in the Iraq War based on false pretenses."

Srini Sitaraman, Associate Professor of Political Science, Clark University:

"I thought the President did a great job. He came out pretty strong, as he should have as the President and Commander in Chief. He laid out a pretty good agenda.

"He also made Governor Romney agree with him on practically every point. I don't feel like the Governor was able to put any distance between himself and the President, and he sort of tried to switch the points back to domestic issues where he felt that he probably had a better position and a better argument to make.

"I think it's really going to come down to key swing states, and not even the states, it's going to come down to key districts.

"Even though the President's performance was very, very strong, I don't think it's going to move the numbers very dramatically. You're going to see a rather close election." 

Tom Finneran, Former MA Speaker of the House and GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™:

"Obama won this debate, although Romney passed every test question with high marks. I give the President the victory based upon three things: a) Body English; b) Pathos; c) The 'Commander in Chief' card.

"It is reported that President Obama played a lot of poker with his State Senate colleagues in Illinois. You could see that experience in his face during Governor Romney’s answers. Obama betrayed no emotion whatsoever other than an intense interest in the answer. It was as if, during debate rehearsals, Obama’s advisors had drilled into him that his facial expressions for 90 minutes would be determinative of whether he gets four more years from the American people. Governor Romney on the other hand licked his lips on a number of occasions and swallowed hard a number of times. To some viewers, that indicates nervousness and anxiety. Advantage-Obama.

"Nobody does pathos better than Obama. Note his answer regarding the four year old girl who lost her father on Sept. 11th, and the sense of closure she expressed to the President upon the killing of Osama. Romney struggles with pathos. Advantage-Obama.

"All Presidents get to play the Commander in Chief card. Obama played this card well in each of the last two debates. Romney certainly passed the tests of credibility and knowledge that all legitimate challengers must meet, but the actual Commander in Chief almost always gets the benefit of the doubt from the American people. Advantage-Obama.
By the way, if Romney should be elected President, he will then control and take advantage of the Commander in Chief card. It goes with the office, not the person.

"The Obama campaign should not get too cocky after tonight. They should not be ordering champagne. Yes, in my opinion, the President won the debate. He has had two good debates in a row. But Romney opened so many eyes with the first debate, and was much more than merely acceptable in the next two.

"Romney very skillfully used several of the questions tonight to circle back to the economy and the grim reality of the past four years. If Romney 'passed the test' regarding foreign policy credibility and simultaneously reminded the American people of the economic miseries they have suffered, then he remains a formidable foe for the President. This race is going down to the wire."


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Iron Mike Farquhar

Obama proved himself churlish, childish, petty, and defensive last night.

Sadly for all of us, he is a case of Affirmative Action where the under-qualified applicant did NOT grow into the job.

When he stooped to lecturing Romney -

'we don't use horses or bayonets any more – we have these ships called aircraft carriers – planes can land on them, and submarines, - they go under the water'

– it was one of the least presidential moments I can remember since Jimmy Carter claimed to be attacked on a pond by a swimming rabbit.

Stephen Quist

Obama clearly won this last debate hands down.
The lasting impression voters will take away from this final debate is a leader of strength and forward thinking policy making decisions that Obama represents versus the failed policies of bush/cheney and a desire to re-fight the cold war that the flip-flopping mitty represents

Iron Mike Farquhar

Tell us Stephen, - do you ALSO believe that our 'lovable village idiot' Joe Biden - is FULLY QUALIFIED to become president on a moment's notice?

Harvey Beehive

Romney did what he had to do. The particulars of Syria, Russia, etc. are the small points. Romney took the high road and focused on the big picture. All he had to do was show that he's competent and steady on foreign policy issues and look presidential. And he did. Obama won the staring contest and the snide comments contest, but in doing so, looked petty and like a loser. In the days ahead, Romney's performance will be seen as very good and he will continue to surge in the polls. Obama didn't close the sale and therefore, he lost.

Stephen Quist

I will also tell you michael that to interject race/affirmative action runs counter to what the American people care about and clearly shows a blogger running scared to have to do so.
Vice President Joe Biden is eminently more qualified (God forbid) to assume the presidency than the extremist ryan........

Stephen Quist

flip-flopping mitty has come full circle from outright rejecting Obamas foreign policy initiatives to quite frankly actually endorsing the Presidents views and the direction he is taking America......no point in electing an out and out flip-flopper better to stay with the guy who has his eyes on the ball protecting America and putting the American people first before corporate America........
The Big-Mo is now on the side of Obama and victory is just 14 days away.....

Iron Mike Farquhar

Aah Stephen, you reveal your limited knowledge base...

You see, the concept of Affirmative Action embraced a wide variety of under-qualified and traditionally excluded applicants. Race was merely one factor. But of course, - you jumped to conclusions.

Mister Obama's most significant UNDER-QUALIFICATION in 2008 was his TOTAL LACK of any LEADERSHIP or MANAGEMENT experience. He was never even a Boy Scout, and we've just spent 45 months watching him bluff his way in a world he doesn't understand while trying to punish a country he clearly loathes – our country.

Harry Huckum

I see that the left wing extremist hasn't learned the proper use of elipsis yet and still likes the kool aide and it's 10% real unemployment.

Stephen Quist

Aaah......Michael you decided Obama was not qualified but for affirmative action.....my friend you can couch it anyway you want and following your posts I nailed it spot on....you can run and hide but you are going to be accountable for your messages just like your hero IHOP'er Hall of Famer flip-flopping mitty, who depending on the audience, tailors his message to that audience even if it runs counter to what he said/claimed previously..............
the huckster has yet to warrant a response

Stephen Quist

why would anyone allow tommy the felon finneran a soapbox at all is beyond me..........the guy completely broke the trust of Massachusetts citizens while committing felonies while on the job.....how much more disgusting can one guy get?

Edward Saucier

How strange it is? All the lefties think Obama won and all the righties think Romney won. Who woulda thunk it?

Fact is American foreign policy in the Middle East, Africa and Asia is an atrocity, an aberration. We do not need friends like Israel, in fact before 1948 we had no enemies in the Middle East. BushCo and the neocons have screwed the pooch so bad in the Middle East we will never recover from the destructive results. Trillions of dollars lost with the costs of the wars, still going on, and the blowback that will continue for generations for the care of returning soldiers with half a body. And the creation of generations of new "terrorists" through the process of collateral damage and the law of "unintended consequences" whose motto is "Death to America."

And we think we're special, what a joke on us. Our foreign policies are one abortion I wouldn't mind making illegal.

And the dysfunctional American people still back those slugs who want to keep things in a downward spiral by attacking Iran and maybe Syria. Which are two of the three countries on Israel's "hit list." We already got Iraq for the crazies in Israel and we should cut them loose and really make friends in the middle east.

The way things are going we can not cut the national debt or even balance the budget without starting by raising revenue. The republicans only want austerity which will only cause a downward spiral of the economy and eventually make everyone not an elitist a ward of the state. No winner, we are all losers.

Iron Mike Farquhar

Edward, you're probably the only 'lefty' in the Commonwealth that thinks Obama won ANY of the three debates....

At this point I don't think even Gloria Allred can derail the freight train...

So you go ahead and blame Bush...we'll blame Woodrow Wilson! BTW, did you know that Wilson was a racist and he re-segregated the military?

Harry Huckum

Oct 20, Telegram and Gazette LTE by Ed Saucier.

Good dose of socialism is what we need

I recently heard a venture capitalist say that they create jobs and assist struggling companies become stable and an asset to the economy. Two companies have been taken over by two different venture capital firms recently that don’t quite fit the above definition — BJ’s Wholesale Club and Sensata Technologies. Neither was a struggling company.

BJ’s, a retail operation, has a stable membership income, a cash-rich balance sheet, and a strong cash flow, according to a Boston Globe article. The company was taken private, as the new owners could make things better that way. But for who? If you know anyone who works there or you shop there, pay attention to what happens in the future. Talk to them about their new owners. I predict the workers will take losses in wages, free speech and other working conditions while the new owners will reap the additional profits for themselves.

Sensata Technologies, a profitable company, set a record last year for profitability. What did the capitalists do for those 170 workers? Gave them all pink slips and by November, Sensata Technologies will be in China — moving expenses being a write-off for United States income tax purposes.

The BJ’s buyout was in all the papers, but the Sensata Technologies buyout, or should I say sellout, was nowhere but Democracy Now on WCCA TV 13 Worcester. Great show for those who want to learn about events not shown elsewhere.

In order to survive, our country needs a good injection of socialism to offset our growing, debilitating capitalism.



Iron Mike Farquhar

Gee, Ed, at least you're out in the open about it. Stalin had a term for folks like yourself; - do you know what it was?

Companies in Massachusetts are willing to relocate to India, Vietnam, and China why? You believe it's because they're anxious to shaft their employees?

Or,...could it be they feel they GETTING the shaft – from our socialist-controlled state legislature? Maybe they're tired of union goons and state regulator goons?

Maybe after years of putting up with attitudes like yours, - they just want to go where they are welcomed and appreciated, - and the local and state governments are grateful for the JOBS and aren't trying to pick their pockets or their bones?

Edward Saucier

That's right Mikey, I'm open about everything. I used to have a saying: If I think I'm right I'll go into hell after the devil himself. Obviously you and your pals are fascists. You seem to want to take the rights away from all the people. I guess you and Harry don't mind the capitalists firing good people, working and making good revenue for Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Illinois, and sending their work to China. Good luck with that, you're a bunch of fine Americans.

Now watch BJ's, they can't ship that company to China so guess who gets the short end of the stick from the capitalists? Hmmmm? You all are as dumb as a sack of rocks.

Stephen Quist

"a good dose of socialism" versus an "overload of fascism" that some bloggers here subsribe to...........one blogger is up fron and honest and the other bloggers would never stand up and be counted in an honest fashion to admit who they really are......facists....

Iron Mike Farquhar

Stephen, your years of 'education' seem to have skipped over some key definitions.

Did you never learn that such socialist leaders as Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Peron and Ceaușescu were all fascists? The exact demarcation between progressive, socialist, fascist, and communist is very very fuzzy, because the doctrines describe an evolving movement.

Stephen Quist

".....because the doctrines describe an evolving movement...."
Nothing new here no difference than an evolving definiton of 'neo-con'
I stand by my posts and reject your personal opinions....even you evolve in your posts over time.......

Stephen Quist

check mate

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