Tonight is the third and final debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. If this were a best-of-three playoff series, most scorecards would have Romney winning the first game and Obama winning the second game with this being the clincher.
Yet, debates don’t quite work out like the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL playoffs. It’s not necessarily about winning or losing, but how the public perceives you. Facts, making the crowd react and talking points don’t equate to automatic victory and it’s still worth asking how much the debates really hurt or help.
But, that being said we are reaching the last debate which definitely carries a great deal of relevance. This will be the sole debate that will solely focus on foreign policy, as opposed to other domestic issues (though we expect allusions to them to be drawn by both candidates) and we expect a lot of fireworks to ignite tonight.
However, what should each candidate do in advance of tonight’s debate? Well we at PolliticsToday have a nice little preview that we wrote for you.
DO: Toot your own horn on a few things. Mention the bin Laden raid a few more times than you normally would. Mention how you ended the Iraq War and how no terrorist attacks have occurred on domestic land. The people need to hear contrast between the eight years under President George W. Bush and the four under you.
DON’T: Apologize. Yes, the whole “Obama apologizes” meme is nothing but hot air from the right wing, but do not give them more fuel to pour on that fire. Sure you can mention how you wish some things were different, but if you are going to allude to that; look at the future. Don’t say “I wish we could’ve ended Afghanistan earlier” but say “we are going to end Afghanistan in 2014 or earlier”.
DO: Show support for Israel. One of the big knocks on you is the whole lie over the administration is a lack of support for our ally in the Middle East. Do highlight the potential in talks with Iran over their nuclear facilities.
DON’T: Kickstart the drumbeat for war in Iran. Toe the line strongly because Americans don’t want war now or probably ever unless there is more reason to. People may not be thinking solely of Iran like they did with Iraq in 2004, but it’s in the back of many people minds. Quell the fears.
DO: Mention the drone attacks. There is nothing that turns off Americans more than the idea of “shadowy” things. Well, there is very few things that sound more shadowy than drones. Bring it up and play the role of dove as opposed to hawk.
DON’T: Be a hawk. Sure you can briefly mention that war is always possible, but do not keep people assuming that you will start a war on what appears to be a very busy first day in the Oval Office.
DO: Look presidential. Don’t get into petty fights over things like debate rules, the last thing the public really wants to hear from you is “Bob…Bob…B—Bob…”
DON’T: Veer too off-topic. Try not to make every argument while mentioning the phrases “jobs” or the “economy”, people want to hear your thoughts on foreign policy and while you can attack the President, it’s best to stay away from too many talking points.
DO: Mention Libya. Solyndra, Jeremiah Wright, “Act of Terror”, didn’t catch on to the American public but it appears there is some questioning over the administration’s handling over the Benghazi attacks. This is one of the few topics where you should be on the offensive for the duration of the argument.
DON’T: Get wrapped up in the President’s alleged words (i.e. act of terror) but instead focus on the handling and actions.
Will either candidate listen to PolliticsToday? Unlikely. But you can! Share your own ideas below.