Tonight’s debate may be President Obama’s last chance to put a stop to the momentum behind Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Putting more pressure on the President is the reality that the President must not only stop Romney’s forward momentum, he must reverse it. That need has been made quite evident since the first presidential debate when Mitt Romney mopped the floor with President Obama and a seemingly large number of Americans got what was essentially their first real impression of Romney… an impression that swayed undecided, independent, and women voters Romney’s way and has apparently become a lasting impression.
Given those circumstances, it is hard to say exactly what we can expect from Mitt Romney tonight. Romney could easily use this opportunity to try knock-out the President with a series of shots dealing with Benghazi. Romney could try to go for broke on Benghazi by pressing the President on what seems to be a cover-up of the facts with weeks of contradictory and misleading answers to legitimate questions and also on what is an obvious intelligence failure of catastrophic proportions which allowed the President to know nothing about the fact that al Qaeda was establishing itself in Eastern Libya. But if Romney takes this route, he must be extraordinarily careful. If he is too aggressive, it will backfire. An over aggressive approach to this will turn off many of the voters Romney needs to win in key battleground states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire, which are too close for comfort.
Beating the President over the head with Benghazi will also risk the creation of a new narrative that will suggest that Romney took legitimate questions about the events surrounding Benghazi and exploited them by over-politicizing them in a desperate attempt to win the presidential election. Such a narrative just two weeks before Election Day would produce irreversibly damaging results for the Romney-Ryan ticket and future headlines in the biased liberal media will deal more with their accusing Romney of attempting to exploit Benghazi than the facts that make Mitt Romney right to make Benghazi an issue.
So while the temptation to confront President Obama with the evidence and questions surrounding the obvious foreign policy and national security blunders behind Benghazi, Romney would probably be best advised to allude to these legitimate concerns in broader terms.
In the days to come, Romney surrogates will surely continue to raise the tough questions that the President continues to avoid giving accurate answers to. And that is how it should be given the fact that much of this election is still being decided on the economy and the President’s failed record on the economy.
If Romney wants to ask President Obama one tough question on Benghazi though, it should be this.
“Mr. President, of all the questions that you must answer to regarding Benghazi, I have one which does not require any major and in-depth investigations, or congressional hearings. It is this. Aside from the questions as to why you did not know anything about Ambassador Steven’s warnings of a growing presence of al Qaeda, as far back as two months prior to his assassination, what I can’t help but wonder is why you, not anyone else…just you.. Why you could not figure out that September 11th followed September 10th? You did not need the NSA, FBI, CIA, or DHS to tell you on September 10th that the following day would be September 11th and that September 11th is a tragic date that for the past 11 years has warranted heightened security at our consulates and embassies. It seems to me that that is a basic fact that no President should have to be schooled on. So aside from all the other questions, I think that the answer to that most basic question about that most basic fact provides the backdrop for a level of incompetence that stops nowhere else other than smack-dab in the middle of your desk.”
The President may or may not have a fairly reasonable response, but either way, by asking that question, Romney will have raised doubt about the President’s national security, intelligence, and foreign policies.
Another point that Romney must make clear is that if the President had not avoided approximately 62% of his daily intelligence meetings since the beginning of 2012, the security issues in Libya and the broader national security concern about a resurgence of al Qaeda in Libya, may have been raised or at the very least, the in depth discussions conducted in those meetings might have at least triggered in President Obama, a concern that could have helped him eventually learn about the facts in Libya that he and the Vice President claim they knew nothing about.
Aside from those questionable approaches for Romney on Benghazi, Mitt Romney should focus on using this foreign policy debate to subtly appeal to voting blocs that could help him win key battleground states.
To win favor with the swing voters in Ohio, Romney must nail the President on the issue of Chinese trade. Our trade troubles with China may not seem like a major issue in this election but Romney’s campaign has polling that shows the issue of trade with China is of great importance to struggling Ohioans who feel President Obama has not done enough to even the playing field between China and the U.S. China. They believe it is an imbalance that continues to prevent them from getting necessary job opportunities in the manufacturing industry.
Then there is Florida.
In Florida, while Romney currently holds a lead that is too close for comfort. One way to expand that lead is by appealing to the Sunshine State’s larger than average Jewish vote.
The Jewish vote is traditionally a strong part of the Democrat’s base but in 2012 there is ample evidence that President Obama is getting a smaller share of Jewish support than he has in the past. To take advantage of this trend, Mitt Romney needs to create doubt about the President’s handling of Iran regarding their attempts to enrich uranium, and also on the President’s shaky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A succesful but subtle exploitation by Romney of Israel and China during tonight’s debate can achieve two critical keys to Romney’s victory on Election Day. It can give him the edge he needs in Ohio and Florida, two states which together, can be the difference between winning and losing in the Electoral College.
As for President Obama, tonight he needs convince voters that while he is ending the wars we are in, Mitt Romney will get us into new wars.
President Obama must try to derail Romney by making voters believe Romney is too out os step with the desires of Americans. He must paint Romney as a dangerously inexperienced neo-con who wants to re-wage the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and wants to take us to war in Iran.
If Mitt Romney can’t offer his own legitimate approach to how he intends to handle these nations as well as others such as Libya and Syria, Obama will have the ability to leave lasting marks on Romney among the undecided voters that both men need to swing in their direction on Election Day. But that will be a tall order for President Obama. Not only has Romney shown himself quite adept at turning around such charges, thanks to recent events, when it comes to foreign policy, it President Obama who now finds himself on the defense, not Mitt Romney.
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