If a week is a long time in politics as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said nearly half-a-century ago two weeks are an eternity in an American presidential election. That’s what the first two debates between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney proved. Thanks to a decent bounce from the Democratic National Convention, Obama was coasting with a near lock on the electoral votes when the two men squared off for the first debate in Denver on October 3.But Romney, who had to put up a great show in the Mile High City to prevent the president from running away with the election, did just that. It was a different race on the morning of October 4.Then at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Tuesday night, it was the turn of Obama to stop his opponent’s momentum and regain his footing. In a signature debate performance, Obama seems to have done that.
But what can be safely said is, with the third and final debate looming on Monday night, the race is where it was before the Republican National Convention, which was held in late August: extremely close with Obama holding a clearer path to electoral college victory than Romney. There is also no question Obama staged a comeback in the second debate, which showcased the best of American politics and democracy, with real voters asking tough questions in real time to the two candidates. The president’s campaign thinks Obama scored a decisive victory on Tuesday night, with a confident and commanding performance, slightly shifting the tide in its favoring its weekly phone call to large donors last week, campaign officials said they believe the president continues to hold narrow but statistically meaningful lead in key battleground states such as Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and Wisconsin while the race is even in Virginia and Florida. The president’s focus on the middle class resonated well with the voters, the officials told the donors. They also said that Romney’s negative tone, especially while answering questions on issues that concern women and on the subject of Libya, helped the president. Another piece of good news that the campaign highlighted was the continued improvement in the US consumer confidence. Reuters that confidence among American consumers jumped to the highest level since before the recession began five years ago. It follows rosy a Department of Labor job report earlier this month, which revealed that unemployment has gone below 8% for the first time in 43 months. In the past two months, each campaign has received at least four opportunities to present its case before the nation: the party convention, two presidential debates and a vice-presidential debate. On Monday night, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, both Romney and Obama will get their final chance at addressing the national audience. Hosted by veteran broadcaster Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, there are many things that make the third debate intriguing, apart from the fact that it will be a tiebreaker and whoever comes out better will have a huge momentum in the last two weeks of the campaign.
FOCUS ON FOREIGN POLICY
This will be the first debate where foreign policy will be the central theme. Audiences in India and the rest of the world, who will be especially tuning into this debate, can expect a lot of fireworks on Iran, Afghanistan and China. Since the killing of Osama bin Laden, foreign policy had been Obama’s turf, but lately the Republicans have been emboldened to attack the administration on two issues, Iranian nuclear development and deaths four Americans in Benghazi last month. If the first two debates are any indication, the third one also has the potential to be a game-changer, and a slugfest.