Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Between game seven of the NLCS series and Monday Night Football any political event would have trouble getting an audience, but the fourth debate and the third presidential debate on foreign policy no less may be a guaranteed loser. In truth, the issues are known and predictable as well as the answers. The only thing remaining will be the body language, the style, and the outreach.
In fact, the President should have the upper hand in this debate as he has been the person making foreign policy this past year. Yet, Obama also is the one who must defend his Administration’s foreign policy while Romney can attack it and criticize it to his heart’s content. He can tell the American people what he would have done and will do in the future, while having no accountability.
Romney has no track record and nothing to defend. On the other hand he has no set of foreign policy experiences upon, not even like Senators Biden or Kerry did on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee. It will be all speculative.
For both men the key ultimately will be their success in avoiding making any mistakes tonight or gaffes. They also need to both be assertive and dramatic. If they attack it must be directly on point. They both understand that this is their last face-to face with all the rest of the campaign based on ads, rallies, polls, and interpretations of polls. The spinners field day will be followed by the pre-Election Day rally.
It will all be over in 15 days; hopefully not with 36 more tacked on!