NOTE: this post was originally published at MSNBC.COM on 10/22/12.
The final debate for the 2012 presidential election will focus on foreign policy, a policy arena former Governor Romney has little experience in yet one in which President Obama after almost four years has plenty.
Let’s not forget that one of then-Senator Obama’s weaknesses in seeking the presidency was his lack of foreign policy credentials. Picking then-Senator Joe Biden, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was widely seen as a move to stem that criticism and it worked. Couple that pick with his near decimation of Al Qaeda and his killing of Osama bin Laden, and you’d think he would be untouchable.
Last week Romney blundered his chance at a home run when the President laid a neatly concealed trap on Libya and Romney stumbled right into it. It was jaw-dropping. This week both men will need to be able to explain to the American people why he’s going to be the better Commander-in-Chief and chief diplomat for the USA. Both men have tall orders ahead of them.
I’ll be listening for the following:
1) Will Obama continue to be strong on the Libya situation and specifically will Romney be able to find an open window somewhere in that topic to attack? I’m not sure after last week.
2) Will Obama specifically lay out how he’s going to reshape our military and foreign policy while ending the war in Afghanistan?
3) Will Romney just spew out more Bush neocon gibberish about being strong abroad i.e. code for war when convenient but not when necessary?
4) Will Romney be able to pivot back to the economy, as his advisors continue to say he will do tonight?
Both men have a hell of a lot riding on this last debate and frankly it’s Obama’s to lose.
He must, I repeat, must come across as the man capable of leading this country another four years both abroad and at home. That’s what the narrow sliver of the undecided electorate needs to see tonight. That’s what he must do because if he doesn’t, the growing sentiment that Romney is a plausible alternative could take hold. With two weeks to go, the President has no room for mistakes.
I’ll be live tweeting from @jimmyspolitics with my MSNBC colleague @goldietaylor so follow us there or at msnbc’s facebook page. See you afterwards with “The Final Debate: Part Deux”.