Green Room

Romney has already won Debate 3, and Obama knows it

posted at 10:58 am on October 19, 2012 by

In the game of poker it’s called a “tell.” A player raises his left eyebrow or licks his lower lip or makes some other unintentional but revealing gesture every time he draws a third jack or, alternatively, bluffs. A skilled opponent uses this to his advantage.

In Monday night’s third and final presidential debate, we will see whether Mitt Romney is skilled enough to read Barack Obama’s “tell” on Benghazi. He already used it, tipping his hand in Debate 2, but Romney either missed it or failed to call the president out on it.

See if you can pick it up. Here is the official White House transcript of the president speaking at a campaign rally in San Francisco on Oct. 9:

Now, four years ago, I made a few commitments to you. I told you I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said I’d end the war in Afghanistan, and we are. I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11—and today, al Qaeda is on its heels and Osama bin Laden is no more.

Here he is two days later in Miami. Again, the source is the White House website:

Four years ago, I told you we’d end the war in Iraq—and we did. I said that we’d end the war in Afghanistan—and we are. I said that we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11—and today, al Qaeda is on its heels and Osama bin Laden is dead.

Now compare both excerpts from his standard prefabricated stump speech with his claim during the debate last Tuesday:

[W]hen it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya—in—in Iraq, and I did. I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have.

Did you notice the difference? It’s subtle but substantive. The line about al Qaeda being “on its heels” has been modified to the more modest claim that “we’d go after al Qaeda.”

This was no slip of the tongue. Obama didn’t inadvertently omit a boast he meant to make. The day after the debate he said in Mount Vernon, Iowa (again, according to the official White House summary of his remarks):

Four years ago, I told you we’d end the war in Iraq—and I did. I said we’d end the war in Afghanistan—and we are.  I said we’d focus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11—and we have, and bin Laden is dead.

His spiel has been carefully reconfigured to match the revised administration narrative about what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11. Early on, the president and his spokesmen clung to a plausible-sounding explanation for the attack—that it was a mob response to an anti-Islamic video. Even after House testimony clarified that that was not what went down, he dispatched his U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, to five (count ‘em, five) news shows the following Sunday to perpetuate the party line, which the president repeated himself on late night TV.

As it became increasingly obvious to the American public that this was a planned, coordinated terror attack, likely orchestrated by Osama bin Laden’s successor and specifically pre-determined to coincide with Sept. 11, Obama grudgingly accepted the truth—which he probably knew on Sept. 12, the day he made his Rose Garden speech.

If he tries to weasel out of his obvious politicization of the attack in Debate 3, as he did in Debate 2, Romney will be ready. And Obama knows it.

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J u g u l a r. Mitt

cmsinaz on October 19, 2012 at 11:19 AM

And that’s why Mitt said, “I want to be sure I have this on the record…”

He’s going to cross-examine him with that statement later and demolish his whole case.

PattyJ on October 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM

bho has zero he can say he has done positive on foreign policy but kill obl, IMO!

Mitt could/should evicerate bho Monday on this issue!
L

letget on October 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM

If this is the case, what are the odds the Obama campaign will try to come up with some excuse to cancel the debate?

gengwall on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM

J u g u l a r. Mitt

cmsinaz on October 19, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Absolutely. The whites of their eyes are showing. They’re demoralized, ride right through them! Don’t settle for safe. Romney, his campaign, and his supporters could have an 1980s level electoral landslide on their hands if they keep their nose to the grindstone. That also means not getting cocky. Obama is going to have plenty of that even in losing.

It’s high time the Democrats get back into Republican Presidents are inevitable, especially when they run hard-core Leftists like Obama. Bring-em back to the middle.

Jurisprudence on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM

If Osama comes up at the debate, Mitt should address the camera directly and say almost all Americans would have made exactly the same call to go after him – so Obama did nothing special there. He should also add that almost all Americans would have done so realizing it would almost certainly not put ‘al Qaeda on its heels’. Getting OBL was always firstly about retribution and justice. Any damage to al Qaeda would be secondary gravy. It should have been fully expected that a decentralized al Qaeda would strike when opportunities arose, as they did at Benghazi. What happened there and afterwards proved the administration from Obama down misunderstood the threat, allowed Americans to be killed unnecessarily, and tried to cover it up.

Marcola on October 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM

I have sort of posted this around HotAir I think Allahpundit and/or Ed have posted things in regard to polls that Obama needs to win the FP debate. This article is kind of a longer post that puts that to bed. Obama likely doesn’t survive the Libya exchange whatever it is and then have a memorable slam dunk on Romney who by definition can’t have a record to criticize on FP. How exactly does he get anything to bounce him up in debate? He doesn’t. The trend is set and Obama is done unless some kind of ground game saves him.

Conan on October 19, 2012 at 12:54 PM

How exactly does he (Romney)get anything to bounce him up in debate? He doesn’t. The trend is set and Obama is done unless some kind of ground game saves him.

Unless Mitt swings and misses at that hanging curve ball again, just like he did last week.

He had Obama all set up with the latter’s admission that ‘yes it was a terrorist attack’. So instead of taking the cross examination to the next step, by asking:

“if you yourself recognized Benghazi as a terrorist event, then why did you send your UN Ambassador to five different Sunday morning talk shows to blame the attack on the video; why was your press secretary still blaming it on the video as late as Sept. 20th (not sure of the date here) etc, etc.”

Romney then got caught up in the ‘what was said in the Rose Garden’ trap.

Old Fritz on October 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Romney then got caught up in the ‘what was said in the Rose Garden’ trap.

Old Fritz on October 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

That’s because Candy Crowley changed the dynamic. Even a hanging curve only passes once. If the umpire holds your bat, you have to look for an opportunity to re-visit it.

He will.

And Obambi will not have a satisfactory response prepared, because there isn’t one.

rwenger43 on October 19, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Oh yeah jurisprudence

cmsinaz on October 19, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Yeah. We’ll have to refute another ObamaLove surge from the MSM after Debate 3, but I don’t see any surprise surge from Obama himself.

If Romney can work the words “not optimal” into one of his points — subtly, of course — that would be a nice touch.

J.E. Dyer on October 19, 2012 at 3:17 PM

After “not optimal” Romney can work in “flexibility” when the subject of Russia comes up.

stukinIL4now on October 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM

If Mitt gets in a “not optimal” reference, Obama is going grind his teeth so hard his jaw may break. If Mitt also gets in a “flexible” jab, look for a huge vein to pop out on Pres Downgrade’s forehead. All that and a “bless his heart” will make his head explode. I can hardly wait.

RobertE on October 19, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Foreign policy is a double edged sword. It’s not either one of them’s strong suit. Obama has the Benghazi thing, but they’re not gonna talk about that the entire debate. When other issues come up, it may be possible for Obama to get one on Romney by the sheer fact that Obama’s been in office for three years. Obama will have some kind of game plan.

MrX on October 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Fascinating post (and very thoughtful thread) but I think Obama has other tells too. For example: he blinked so much, and so fast, listening to Mitt Romney correctly needle him on his failed FP record that I thought his eyelashes would catch fire.

If Mitt gets in a “not optimal” reference, Obama is going grind his teeth so hard his jaw may break. If Mitt also gets in a “flexible” jab, look for a huge vein to pop out on Pres Downgrade’s forehead. All that and a “bless his heart” will make his head explode. I can hardly wait.

RobertE on October 19, 2012 at 5:20 PM

The good part about his already having shot his righteous-indignation-shtick wad at Debate 2 is that he has to top it if Romney continues to hammer home the fact that the administration lied through their teeth for two weeks.

I know it won’t happen but wouldn’t it be awesome to see him actually stalk off the stage. He despises Romney so much and thinks being questioned is beneath him.

Besides, I really think he’s tired of the job of POTUS. Why wouldn’t he look forward to that $35M mansion in Hawaii with nothing to do but endless rounds of golf and a speech now and then whenever he needs an adoring-crowd fix?

inviolet on October 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM

I got feeling he’ll be reciting name
rank, and serial number after every question.

Red Creek on October 20, 2012 at 4:04 AM

Mitt could ask prezzy if he still has the binders full of his broken promises, too.

Kissmygrits on October 20, 2012 at 10:22 AM

What i mean by that — he is going to have all of his canned answers about the investigation underway all lined up. He’ll use that as wall to deflect critisism. Romney has to find a way to breach the wall.

Red Creek on October 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM

And Obama knows it.

That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised to see him manufacture some last minute crisis to weasel out of showing up. Sure, plenty people would see through it, but maybe the damage would be less than showing up and taking this beating. ‘Cause it’s likely to be a doozie.

petefrt on October 20, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Romney then got caught up in the ‘what was said in the Rose Garden’ trap.

Old Fritz on October 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Right, Romney was setting Obama up for the kill, but then Cowley derailed him.

I’m confident that Mitt learned his lesson that night, and it’s unlikely he’ll let it happen again.

petefrt on October 20, 2012 at 5:57 PM

It’s high time the Democrats get back into Republican Presidents are inevitable, especially when they run hard-core Leftists like Obama. Bring-em back to the middle.

Jurisprudence on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Yes, November needs to be a victory for the generations, an historic victory so crushing that the Dem party won’t dare run another America-hating, capitalist hating, liberty hating radical of Obama’s ilk for another hundred years.

CRUSHING.

petefrt on October 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

If killing bin Laden comes up and Romney takes the advice offered here to say anyone in America would have made the same call then he also needs to say with the exception of ex-Pres Clinton and the reported 3 or 4 times that Obama wouldn’t make the call. I would also like a reference made to the 3am phone call and Obama’s obvious weakness in FP as evidenced by his bowing to nearly every head of state (Queen Elizabeth is an obvious exception).

Robbin Hood on October 20, 2012 at 7:39 PM

And wouldn’t it be nice to have a take home zinger like Reagan’s “there you go again”. Perhaps, “words have meaning Sir and so do actions”.

Robbin Hood on October 20, 2012 at 7:41 PM

And Obambi will not have a satisfactory response prepared, because there isn’t one.

rwenger43

The problem with that argument is you don’t know that. You also don’t know that Bob the mod won’t come to his rescue the way candy did.

If Romney bases his strategy Monday night around parsing Obama’s words the way this article recommends, he will lose the debate. Count on it.

xblade on October 21, 2012 at 2:19 AM

So President Bush also “went after Al QUeda and Bin Laden.
So what did Obama do that was new?

seven on October 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM