Monday, 1 October 2012

Presidential debates begin Wednesday: What can we expect to hear, or not?

Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour will be the first moderator in the presidential debate series. He previously announced there would be six 15-minute blocs to the debate, the first three on the economy, the fourth on healthcare, the fifth of “the role of government” and the sixth on “governing.”
The economy and job creation are the most important topics for the leaders, but the Republicans no doubt will try and side swipe the debates with a foreign policy discussion. After all with Mitt Romney’s lack of experience in that area, going on the offense will suit him better than trying to defend his foreign policy record that right now consists of insulting our allies in Europe on his last trip to the continent.
With the recent outbreak of violence in Libya and the killing of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, there is a possibility that Republicans will try and bring the conversation into the first debate, considering Mitt Romney’s lagging behind President Obama in percentage points
If the topic is broached, the Republican response will be to accuse the Obama Administration of a coverup of the facts behind the attack on Stevens and three other Americans. They will call for the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s resignation, saying she gave out erroneous or misleading information.
Obama will respond regarding the Sept. 11 event, explaining information shifted from an unplanned attack to a pre-planned terrorist attack. The reason, officials say: new evidence.
"As the intelligence community collects and analyzes more information related to the attack, our understanding of the event continues to evolve," says a statement released late Friday, Sept. 28 by the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
The changing story -- from a protest over an anti-Islam film to an organized attack possibly involving al-Qaida -- has given Republicans ammunition to accuse the Obama administration of a coverup of the facts behind the attack that killed Stevens and three other diplomats.
Is going on offense a good strategy for Romney at this juncture? Considering his revealed statement that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on the government, from which he has tried to pried himself loose, the answer is “no.” Also, the president is privy to classified information as yet not disclosed, and if the topic is discussed Romney could find himself looking even more inept in foreign policy.
Romney should be framing his arguments and his dollars to improve his credibility instead of attacking the Obama Administration. The handling of events like Libya is usually surrounded by controversy, and Romney is not going to endear himself to voters in attack mode. The counter points that Obama can use to substantiate his foreign policy in the last four years outweigh the Libya tragedy, and this by no means is an attempt to mitigate the circumstances of Americans killed in Libya, just the realities of presidential debate formats. The economy remains the most important subject Americans want to hear about, not Libya, in this first segment of the debates.
Reports say Romney is spending millions of dollars in advertising defending himself saying he really didn’t mean it when he said 47 percent of Americans were dependent on the government. The question on Wednesday is will he spend more time defending himself or defending an economy based on keeping the Bush tax cuts putting the tax burden on the middle class? Will “Romney-omics” defend corporate tax loopholes on foreign investments and corporations? Will he further define his vice presidential nominee’s plan to scrap Medicare and Social Security in favor of vouchers? Will he tell the science community that education and research support really belong in the private sector? Will he tell American children graduating from high school to ask their parents for money for college instead of Pell Grants and government guaranteed college loans?

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