Candidates need to nail last debate
Paula DockeryWith two of the three presidential debates behind us, the score is tied with Gov. Mitt Romney handily winning the first and President Barack Obama rebounding strongly in the second matchup Tuesday night.
Published: October 20, 2012
Published: October 20, 2012
This raises the stakes for the final contest only days away at Lynn University in Boca Raton. All eyes again will be on Florida and interestingly, in the same city where Romney made his infamous "47 percent comment" at a fundraising event.
In the first debate in Denver, Romney strode onto stage with confidence and a sense of purpose. Obama didn't show up.
Physically he was there, but his supporters were rightfully dismayed and deflated by his lackadaisical performance. In an effort to seem "presidential" or above the fray, he appeared aloof, disinterested and outmatched.
Romney scored on style, performance and likeability. That was particularly troubling for the Obama campaign, which was winning the likeability battle and effectively portraying Romney as out of touch and not "one of us."
Romney managed to be biting and aggressive with a smile on his face while maintaining a modicum of respect for the office of President.
Obama and his surrogates correctly point out that Romney suddenly moved to the center during the debate by modifying his positions without admitting that he did so.
Obama's people pointed out Romney's inconsistencies after the event. In a debate, however, if an answer is not challenged immediately, the point goes to the one making it, even if it's wrong.
Tuesday's debate offered Obama the chance to redeem himself and reinvigorate supporters and he didn't disappoint. The main difference? He came prepared to call out inaccuracies and to tout his successes.
Romney held his own and provided a solid performance, but he was flustered at times by an aggressive opponent who brought his B+ game.
The town hall format allowed the candidates to move and interact with the "undecided voters" who posed the questions. Neither candidate capitalized on the chance to connect with the questioners, although this is where pundits felt Obama would have an advantage.
The questioners allowed both candidates to bring up the points they wanted to highlight. The questions on immigration, women in the workplace and how Romney differs from George W. Bush helped Obama; the economy, the disenchanted Obama voter and Libya should have benefited Romney.
Time, and the polls, will show if this performance will stop Romney's momentum, slow it down or reverse it.
With the score now tied, the final presidential debate on foreign policy looms large and, of course, Florida will be the stage.
I suspect both men will bring their A games.
Paula Dockery is a term-limited Republican senator from Lakeland who is chronicling her final year in the Florida Senate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.