Reaction: Obama vs Romney, the third presidential debate

 

Sitting at a table in Boca Raton, Florida, President Obama and Mitt Romney debated last night for the third and final time:reaction this morning tilts in favour of Obama who, in another fists-up performance, accused Romney of "wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map".

On The Daily Beast Howard Kurtz puzzles over a "sober" performance from Romney. The challenger, says Kurtz, seemed to have signed a "non-aggression pact": he admitted Obama's surge in Afghanistan had worked, praised the killing of Bin Laden and admitted that, like Obama, he did not favour military intervention in Syria. With polls turning in his direction, Romney played "rope-a-dope", staying reserved and conciliatory in the hope of winning more moderates to his side.

Politico's Roger Simon praises Obama's bolshiness. This time the President "schooled" his rival. He showed emotion (real or not - it doesn't matter) on USA's bond with Israel, and came out with a few boom-lowering lines, answering Romney's complaint that the Navy has fewer ships with a jibe: "We also have fewer horses and bayonets too". Time and again both candidates attempted to shift focus to domestic economics - they know that this election won't be won over Libya or Iran.

The Guardian's Gary Younge lamented the similarity between the two candidates. When Obama slapped down Romney with the line "you're saying the same things as us, but you say them louder", this condemned both men. As Younge sees it, Obama has let go moral authority on foreign policy, despite the fact that he's overwhelmingly supported outside America: there was no mention of Guantanamo Bay or rendition and "No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya".

Overall, pundits are happy to give Obama the advantage - less happy to attribute much significance to last night's set-to.

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