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Obama won the debate, but that doesn’t change much

Monday night’s final debate was by far the most boring of the three. Foreign policy is tough to talk about and listen to, especially when the candidates’ positions are incredibly similar.

Coming into the debate, President Barack Obama’s job was to reinforce his positions. He did and was in control all night. There’s no question he won. He was more aggressive and called Republican candidate Mitt Romney out on his changing positions. Obama also painted Romney as naïve in certain areas — Russia, Libya, Syria. What’s interesting about that is it was the same position Obama himself was in four years ago. Isn’t it amazing how things can change?

Romney came into the debate with different goals. First, he had to appear presidential. By that I mean he had to “look the part.” After a slow start, he was able to achieve that goal. A CNN poll conducted after Monday’s debate found that 60 percent of respondents think Romney could handle the job as Commander-in-Chief.

Second, Romney had to distance himself from George W. Bush. He tried to do that be assuring everyone he would only use force as a last resort, after all other means are exhausted. He even stole a Bill Clinton line when he said, “We can’t kill our way out of this mess.” The strategy here was to look different than the president.

Truth be told, Obama had a major advantage going into the debate. His strong suit is foreign policy. So far, it’s the highlight of his presidency, apology tour aside. And Romney struggled to find areas to stand out on most of the major foreign policy issues, like al-Qaeda, Pakistan, Iran, Libya and Syria. This tells me thath, no matter who takes the oath of office on Jan. 20th, America’s foreign policy won’t change much.

Will this debate change anything? Probably not much. It will help Obama a little bit, but it won’t hurt Romney. This race seems destined to be close and, for the third time in four elections, it could literally come down to one state (in 2000 it was Florida, 2004 it was Ohio). There are only two weeks left until election day.

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Usually, the very end of the debate is not a stand out moment. The questions are over and the candidates are finished, but on Monday, it was nice to see both Romney and Obama shake hands and share a laugh. Despite all the bickering, I get the impression they do like each other.

Now if only Congress could do that…