Debate Wrap Up: How each candidate fared after the final debate

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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First Presidential Debate 2012

The first presidential debate on Oct. 3, between Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama at the University of Denver ended with woes from pundits for Obama and a clear win for the Romney campaign.

From the beginning of the debate, Romney aggressively argued against the most of the president’s current policies and specifically the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

Romney asserted that the Affordable Care Act was an attack on Medicare and would cut $716 billion from the program. Though not exactly accurate that Obamacare will immediately cut that amount from Medicare, the Congressional Budget Office projected if the Affordable Care Act were repealed, Medicare spending will increase by $716 billion over the next 10 years.  

As it stands, Obamacare does limit the growth of spending for Medicare but also does not necessarily cut the program. That Obama  failed to point out that distinction, among with many others in the debate, led the presidential camp to look weak and disorganized, giving a clear win to Romney.

Though Obama attacked Romney’s tax policies as being too vague, Romney’s explanation that his lack of specifics as a positive was sufficient. Romney told Americans that the president’s failures were largely because of Obama’s inability or unwillingness to compromise with Congress.

At this, Obama could only lower his head, defeated; words were beyond him.

Romney left the debate with renewed confidence, and the president was rewarded with a slight loss in his lead.

Second Presidential Debate

What the first presidential debate lacked in conflict, the second had in abundance. But while the fight between Obama and Romney was more spirited in the Oct. 16 town-hall debate — confrontations and contradictions ruled the evening — the attitudes of each candidate toward the truth were largely unchanged. Obama often misrepresented and spun the facts, while Romney consistently exaggerated them.

The spotlight turned to a number of issues that had not been previously addressed in a presidential debate, including the Obama administration’s handling of the death of an American ambassador and three other Americans in Libya and equal pay for women.

On Libya, Romney called into question the administration’s response to the attacks, arguing that it had taken the administration too long to label Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ murder a terrorist attack. Romney was incorrect on that point. Obama called the attack an “act of terror” the day after it occurred.

The Obama administration did, however, send conflicting messages in the weeks after the Libya attack, often insinuating that spontaneous protests in response to an anti-Muslim video were to blame.     

When asked about the income disparity between men and women, Obama touted his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows women to challenge discriminatory paychecks. Romney suggested that Obama has failed America’s women, that “in the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs,” though Bureau of Labor statistics suggests that the number is closer to 93,000.

The newly combative Obama came out slightly ahead in the second presidential debate thanks, in large part, to a marginally stronger commitment to the truth.

Third Presidential Debate

The final debate between Obama and Romney took place Monday in Boca Raton, Fla., where the topic of conversation was foreign policy, specifically policy in the Middle East.

A chance to show the nation both would like to lead, a debate on foreign policy gives both candidates a clear opportunity to express their respective views on how America will shape and is shaped by the globe.

Both candidates tried to tout their policies by distinguishing themselves from each other. But as both agreed on a range of issues, including drone attacks and the use of military force, the only way to distinguish from one another was to starkly attack the other — something Obama did nearly flawlessly, handing him the clear win in the debate.

Obama, a president whose foreign policy has found opposition among his Democratic base, stressed steadfast leadership he contended his administration showed in the past four years.

Romney, though, took every opportunity to shift the debate directly toward the economy, forcing Obama on the defensive and the moderator on tilt. His five-point economic plan made several appearances in the debate, laying down domestic differences rather than foreign policy differences. 

The candidates’ policies were not extremely different, as they both stressed tight economic sanctions on nations that sanction terrorism, both will stand with Israel if the country is attacked, and military action as a last resort in every situation.   

The highlight of the night, giving the president a clear victory, was Obama’s strong questioning of Romney’s “inconsistent” policies and opinions on issues ranging from a withdrawal timetable in Afghanistan to the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

“You’ve been all over the map,” Obama told Romney, a line heard several times throughout the evening.

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