President Obama and GOP challengerfaced off in the third an final presidential debate in Boca Reton, Fla. By most accounts and early debate result polls, President Obama won the debate by points. The question, with two weeks left until Election Day, was it a game changer?
According to CNN, Obama won the debate. Post-debate polls, one by CNN/ORC, had it 48-40 percent for Obama, and another by CBS showed a clear victory for the president.
What did the president have to do?
The president had to be confident, explain his foreign policy and demonstrate that he was clearly in charge and on top of policies. The president was confident, energized and explained his foreign policy well.
What did Mitt Romney have to do?
Mitt Romney had to demonstrate that he has the qualities of a commander in chief. He had to debunk the Obama campaign's depiction of him as a war monger and show that he was on top of global issues.
The spin doctors
The spin doctors went to work immediately after the debate. The left depicted the debate as a knock out punch for the president, similar Romney's during the first debate, while the right depicted Mitt Romney as presidential, conceding that the president probably won by points but at times acted petty in some of his responses.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Obama exhibited confidence and for the most part explained his policies well. On the other end, Romney did what he had to do. He demonstrated that he had what it takes to be commander-in-chief and was on top of global issues.
During the debate on the size of the Navy, Obama's response bordered on conescending, When Romney suggested that the Navy had fewer ships than in 1916, Obama's response was that there were fewer ships, because technology had changed. He sounded like a professor lecturing his students.
“Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines, and so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships, it's what are our capabilities.”
If the president wants to be that petty on a serious issue, there is a revelation, the assault rifle issued to the military comes equipped with a bayonet, and horses are still used as pack animals, along with mules. Sen.depicted that statement as snarky.
The debate focused on foreign policy and quickly moved through Libya, Syria, the instability in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There was little daylight between the president's policies and those of Romney, including the handling of the Iran nuclear development.
There was an intense discussion on America's relationship with Israel, with Romney pointing out that the president skipped Israel during his Middle East tour, shortly after taking office.
On Iraq, the president accused Romney of wanting to leave a residual force in the country. Romney accused the president of failing to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement, which resulted in the total withdrawal. This is true, and the vice president was in charge of these negotiations and failed.
The complete history of the Iraq war has yet to be written, but at the moment the rift between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds is unsettling and there is a resurgence of foreign fighters, based on al-Qaida and Iranian fighters.
It would appear that Romney deliberately did not attack the president on the Benghazi consulate debacle, in order to avoid being drawn into another argument. This got some criticism from the Right, who thought that the GOP nominee should have capitalized on the issue. Romney's strategy was correct, since the full details on the attack will not be known before the Nov. 6 election.
Romney deflected the discussion back on the economy, noting that a strong American economy is essential in order for America to be a leader in the world. He re-emphasized his five point plan for the economy.
Opinion: While the president appeared confident and stated his case well, he edged Romney on the debate but did not deliver a knockout punch. Romney's strategy was to demonstrate that he can fill the boots of the commander-in-chief.
Romney avoided overreaching and did not take the bait to get into a fight over Libya. Although Obama constantly went onto the attack, Romney pointed out that attacking him is not a policy.
The debate will not be a game-changer, mainly due to the fact that Americans are focused on bread-and-butter issues. It did not have the earth-shaking effects that the first debate had. Romney did well enough to continue to be the alternate choice for president. Canada's National Post headline, "Obama and Romney spend third debate in search of an argument," described the debate best.
The truth also took a beating during the debate. The Right facts concluded that President Obama made 15 false or near false statments, while Mitt Romney made two.
The race continues to be very close, and the next 14 days will determine the outcome with each camp bolstering its ground game.
If you like writing about US politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.