Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama Finds His Stride

The turning point in the second debate tonight came when Mitt Romney suggested that President Obama did not characterize the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as a terror attack until 14 days after the extremists had infiltrated the compound and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

This was after Obama had asserted that he had gone to the Rose Garden the day after attack to say “this was an act of terror.”

“Get the transcript,” the President said. In fact, moderator Candy Crowley of CNN had to interject, “He did in fact, sir,” addressing Romney.

“Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” requested the President.

(Here's what the President said in the Rose Garden on September 12: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.")
As the Nassau audience applaued, the wind went out of Romney’s sail. A stern Obama also scored huge points when he came down hard on Romney’s insinuations that the President had used the Benghazi attack for political advantage.  “The suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive.  That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as commander-in-chief.”

Finally we got to see the Obama we wanted to see in the first debate. He was assertive without being overbearing. He looked directly at his challenger and dissected Romney's arguments with the precision of a surgeon. While Romney tried to distance himself from former president Bush, Obama also scored points by portraying a humane and competent Bush.

President Obama regained his stride after his inexplicably poor performance in the first debate. If all’s well that ends well, then a similar feisty and passionate performance in the third and final debate this coming Monday should boost Obama’s chances.

In California’s liberal Silicon Valley today, I saw two cars sporting the same bumper sticker: “I was anti-Obama before it was cool.”

The anti-Obama crowd will never be placated but the main question is: Was Obama able to  regain some of the undecided voters who were beginning to lean toward Romney after the President's debacle in Denver? Most certainly.

If the Benghazi moment was the highlight of the debate, a close second was Obama's closing statement in which he was able to nail Romney's cruel "47%" comment. The President said: "I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds."
An intriguing Presidential election is coming our way on November 6. It will be a fight to the finish and it will be close. But good sense will ultimately prevail and it is likely that Americans will reward President Obama with a second term. Only one request, Mr. President: Make the third and final debate with Mitt Romney as interesting and feisty and passionate as this one!

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