Presidential Debate No. 3: The War at the Shore? Nah…
Close doesn’t begin to describe the Presidential race. The race has been likened to a “knife fight in a phone booth” (wish that analogy was mine; however, I don’t know who to credit with it). However, if you were expecting “High Noon,” “The Gunfight at the O.K. Coral” or even a shootout with water pistols for the third and final Presidential debate, you were disappointed…
Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of last night’s debate that may be of interest to those of us in the communications business:
Build that Bridge. While the subject of the debate was foreign policy, Governor Romney successfully “bridged” to his stand on the economy on a number of occasions. In essence building the case that a strong economy was needed to assure America’s stature in the world. He did this a number of times while pointing to the President’s weak record on the economy. I think this played well with the American electorate given their concerns over jobs and the economy.
Avoiding the Traps. Political pundits were expecting Governor Romney to pick up on the Libyan matter from the last debate and I suspect that the President was ready for a fight. Didn’t happen. By avoiding the matter, the Governor was able to stay “out of the weeds” and appeared presidential. In addition, Governor Romney chided the President for “attacking” him rather than discussing the issues, again coming off presidential by staying above the fray.
Demeanor. Governor Romney needed to come off as a credible alternative for the job of Commander-in-Chief. He did this. As in previous debates, the Governor came across as cool and in command of the facts, very much the CEO (he did reference his experience in the private sector). For his part, President Obama sported a variety of expressions – serious, appearing angry at times and invoking the spirit of Vice President Joe Biden by laughing and smiling at other times. In addition, he interrupted Candidate Romney a number of times, which I don’t think plays well with voters.
Someone Has to Have the Line of the Night. And, President Obama gets the nod for his reference to “horses and bayonets” in a discussion about defense spending. Whether it is true or not, the President played this one well and got well-deserved laughs for it.
Stay on Message. In each of his debates, Governor Romney outlined his five-point agenda for the economy – I can almost recite it in my sleep. This is what we teach – stay on message and build awareness and acceptance through repetition.
Alter Misperceptions. Team Obama has been portraying Governor Romney as a bit of a war monger. During the debate, the Governor noted that he would not have the US involved militarily which, I believe, provided assurances to a war-weary American public.
Before the start of the debates, conventional wisdom had it that they don’t make a difference. Given the swings in the polls – and we’ve had a record number of polls this political season – it appears that conventional wisdom has it wrong. New numbers should be around by the end of the week and we will see if indeed the needle moved and in whose favor.
This political season feels like it started about a century ago. I suspect that the American public is suffering from campaign fatigue – the ads, the speeches, the debates, the endless attacks and counterattacks… Well, we’re in the home stretch.
Published: October 23, 2012 By: