Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama walked into Monday's debate with one goal: to pursuade undecideds.
For Romney, he needed to avoid being too aggressive and maintain momentum and for Obama, he needed to come on strong and pick up steam.
It's a crucial time for both campaigns.
Before they took the stage at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., the latest polling shows both in a dead-heat nationwide with Romney leading on the issues of job creation and the economy.
Oct. 22, 2012 - Boca Raton, FL, USA - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney listens as President Barack Obama makes a point during the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday, October 22, 2012. Bob Schieffer was the moderator. (Credit Image: © Robert Duyos/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
The undecided voters weren't about to become decided based on Monday night's performance, because the topic was foreign policy. Some post-debate polls showed the debate as a virtual tie with Obama leaning more favorably.
But the candidates knew they were sharing the nation's attention with the real showdowns of the day: the Detroit Lions v the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants.
Tough competition when voters say they'd rather make jobs, not war.
Romney's numbers have climbed on foreign policy slightly, but the incumbent tends to hold more cards on this issue because the opponent simply doesn't have the background.
A few words on strategy: Save his strong support of Israel, Romney appealed to the doves, Obama to the war hawks.
It's a no-brainer for both to appear more centrist at this stage.
But it's the issues on which they softened (or toughened) that got some tongues a waggin.'
The one soundbite that rung in pundits ears and quickly became immortilized in meme was the "horses and bayonets" remark by the president.
Sadly, the remarks by many celebrities in the link above made fun of bayonets, as if they're a thing of the past.
"If Romney's military budget includes bayonets, it better also include tri-cornered hats," said Seth McFarlane.
Newsflash, bayonets aren't a fad, they're a weapon.
They are an invaluable weapon in hand-to-hand combat and in other situations where a rifle is not appropriate.
But enough about silly soundbites.
The real issues tended to get watered down to the point that the candidates either seemed to be subdued or even agreeing with each other.
As noted by a few commentators on the LA Times, they comically noted that the candidates even managed to confuse us into thinking all the world's problems come back to our economy.
Sure it does to some extent, but not in the slick way they made it seem.
These debate performances showed the nation and we BlogHers two very different candidates who articulated their particular brand of leadership.
In just a little over 14 days, we and the world will know the kind of America we are and hope to be.
- Follow me @erica_holloway.
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