Debate # 3
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Unlike the Biden-Ryan debate last week which was up against both baseball and football games, Obama-Romney only need to compete with the third game of the Tigers-Yankees ACLS series; at a time that New York and probably Michigan are states that are no longer in play. For the purists, as we live in the Tivo age, instructions for fans of both suggest that they record the game and watch the debate live, as they can see the game much faster later than they can in real time, thus saving the painful part of baseball viewing time.
Tomorrow’s debate while it may not be the most interesting, it could definitely be the most unpredictable, since the candidates will be questioned by private undecided voters with their own prepared and screened questions to which the moderator, Candy Crowley, reportedly may not follow-up, re-phrase, or modify. It will include discussions of both domestic and foreign policy. At the same time, the debaters also will be able to spin their answers into pat, prepared replies with no concern that the moderator will refocus the question.
This round will test whether Obama is truly ready to go on the attack, or whether he will remain soft, calm, and polite. If he hopes to win on November 6, most observers have suggested that anything less than a different image from two weeks ago could seriously damage his campaign. He needs to be sharp, precise, charismatic, and on top of his political game; or else this may be the beginning of the end of his political career.
Romney faces the tough task of knowing how different Obama is likely to be and he needs to disarm Obama in the public eye with a quick takedown. Romney must score early and thus force Obama to play catch-up; Romney, himself, cannot afford to play catch-up.
Romney needs to avoid a gaffe, sound convincing, and not backtrack. On the other hand, Obama needs to try to force Romney to stumble and then press him as Romney avoids addressing his own mis-speak.
Further to yesterday’s post, CNN reports tonight that indeed Secretary Clinton herself has now taken the fall for her Department’s failings to provide the Libyan consulate with satisfactory and sufficient security which might have saved the lives of the Americans killed in the attack in Benghazi on September 11. At least one of the consequences of these statements will be to remove or greatly soften this item from the discussion tomorrow night, as it was front and center in last week’s vice-presidential debate.