Last night’s final presidential debate offered voters one last chance to see President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney go head to head in a war of words before Election Day. The debate, held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and moderated by Bob Schieffer (CBS’ Face the Nation), focused on foreign policy — a strength of Obama’s, as the incumbent, and relatively unfamiliar territory for Romney. After a night to let both the policy stances and the personal jabs settle, we can finally ask “Who won the debate?” Did one candidate with the debate outright? Did Obama build off his improved performance at the town hall debate? Who fared better with swing state and undecided voters? Here’s a roundup of what a number of pundits and publications say won the debate.
Who won the debate? (Daily Caller)
Mitt Romney did what he had to do.
President Obama was the clear aggressor, but Romney couldn’t be shaken. He remained calm and disciplined, typically spouting non controversial platitudes, “hugging” Obama on areas where his policies are popular, and occasionally drawing a contrast on predetermined “safe” issues (such as not cutting defense spending, standing up to China, etc.)
The split screen frequently showed Obama leaning in, ready to pounce — while Romney was often seen wearing that semi-smile he has perfected. Obama often seemed angry and patronizing, while Romney often seemed serious, calm and friendly.
To be sure, many conservatives will be unhappy with Romney’s performance. They will say he should have vowed “not to bow” to foreign heads of state — and they will wish that he had said things like, “Nobody died in Watergate.”
Who won the debate? (Washington Post)
Obama was on the offensive with harsh jabs, while Romney took a notably softer and more conciliatory tone than he has on foreign policy in the past. The Fix rated Obama a winner and Romney a loser. Obama also won CBS News’ snap poll, 53 to 23 percent.
Give the slight edge to President Obama.
Thanks to an aggressive performance and a couple of zingers, a plurality of debate watchers questioned in a national survey say that the president won his final faceoff with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Forty-eight percent of registered voters who watched Monday night’s third presidential debate say that Obama won the showdown, with 40% saying Romney did the better job in a debate dedicated to foreign policy. The president’s eight-point advantage over the former Massachusetts governor came among a debate audience that was slightly more Republican than the country as a whole and is just within the survey’s sampling error.
Krauthammer: Romney Won Unequivocally; Obama’s Responses Were Petty (Real Clear Politics)
I think it’s unequivocal, Romney won. And he didn’t just win tactically, but strategically. Strategically, all he needed to do is basically draw. He needed to continue the momentum he’s had since the first debate, and this will continue it. Tactically, he simply had to get up there and show that he’s a competent man, somebody who you could trust as commander in chief, a who knows every area of the globe and he gave interesting extra details, like the Haqqani network, which gave the impression he knows what he’s talking about. But there is a third level here, and that is what actually happened in the debate.
We can argue about the small points and the debating points. Romney went large, Obama went very, very small, shockingly small.
I thought Romney had the day. He looked presidential. The president did not. And that’s the impression I think that is going to be left.
It’s early, this is shaping up to be like the first debate. Romney is on the path to a knock out. He’s commanding. — Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) October 23, 2012
Romney seemed so focus on being “acceptable” that he didn’t see the need to either respond to criticism or draw many distinctions. Too safe? — Chuck Todd (@chucktodd)
You’re all saying Obama won but I think Romney ate his lunch in the last 45 minutes — John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz)
Bottom Line: Romney did well. My friends who support Romney for hawkish reasons … maybe not so well. — davidfrum (@davidfrum)
First debate, all agreed, Obama lost; second one, i say he won, but Romney not trounced. But this one? Only bubbledwellers can say Mitt won — Bill Maher (@billmaher)