Beam: Next debate could hold key

By By Jim Beam / American Press

Anyone who watched the second presidential debate Tuesday night didn’t need a poll to tell them President Obama won. Republican

nominee Mitt Romney wasn’t nearly as effective as he was when he rolled over the president in the first debate.

Both men came out fighting, and most political analysts agreed they don’t like each other. You could sense that the 82 undecided

voters at Hofstra University in New York who were asking questions felt uneasy about the sparring match.

A CBS-TV post-debate poll showed Obama winning 37 percent to 30 percent, a seven-point margin. The other 33 percent who were

surveyed called it a tie. CNN’s poll gave the president the edge, 46 percent to 39 percent, another seven-point victory. Romney won the first debate by a 67 percent-to-25 percent margin.

Some political analysts called Tuesday’s town hall debate a draw because viewers who were polled by CNN gave Romney the higher

marks on his ability to handle the economy, taxes, health care and the country’s $16 trillion deficit.

CNN said its poll showed one-quarter of the debate watchers said it made them more likely to vote for Obama, and an equal

number said it made them more likely to vote for Romney. Half of those surveyed said it wouldn’t have any effect on their

vote.

The final debate is scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT Monday, and it will be devoted to foreign policy.

If Romney doesn’t do a better job on foreign policy than he did Tuesday, he’s going to have some real problems. The Obama

administration hasn’t handled the aftermath of the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya well,

and it’s an issue of concern to many voters.

Unfortunately for Romney, he and his

advisers failed to check on what President Obama said in the Rose Garden

after the attack.

Obama said the U.S. wouldn’t stand for terror against its citizens

and embassies, but later in those same remarks the president

called the Libyan attack the result of an anti-Muslim film. Romney

failed to point out the inconsistency.

Obama continues to get points on his

likeability, and Romney loses points for his failure to connect with

average voters.

The latter shouldn’t come as a surprise since the president

continues to play the class warfare game, saying that Romney is

a wealthy man who doesn’t care about average folks.

Both candidates spend too much time

defending their own tax plans and attacking the other fellow’s. What no

one has pointed

out about taxes and other money issues during these debates is

Congress being the place where the real financial decisions

are made. Neither Obama nor Romney will get anything done without

help from Congress when it comes to enacting their programs,

passing taxes and handling the national debt.

One poll about working together with

Congress had interesting results. It said 55 percent of likely voters

said if Obama wins

they would prefer that Republicans hold at least the House or

Senate to keep him in check. And 62 percent said they would

prefer Democratic control of at least one chamber to keep Romney

in check. It’s obvious voters don’t trust their public officials.

Obama hit Romney hard where it hurts.

He again tried to tie Romney to George W. Bush policies, criticized

Romney’s opposition

to the auto industry bailout, the GOP nominee’s absence of details

on his tax plans, his record on women’s issues and Romney’s

comments about 47 percent of Americans believing they deserve

government help.

Romney was effective in attacking

Obama’s record for the last four years for failing to deliver on his

2008 promises, his

over $1 trillion in deficit spending for each of those years, the

national debt that he said has climbed from $10 trillion

to $16 trillion during Obama’s presidency, the absence of a

program for the next four years and Obama’s failure to deal with

illegal immigration.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was asked about the debate on CNN and said, “The problem is not his (President Obama’s) oratorical

skills — it’s his record and no policy.”

Naureen Khan wrote in National Journal,

a Washington, D.C., political magazine, about “Wal Mart moms” who

praised and criticized

each candidate. One of those moms said, “I just feel that neither

of them 100 percent answered the question before they started

finger-pointing.”

It’s my guess that American voters felt

the same way and are frustrated about their inability to get straight

answers from

either candidate. Voters also get awfully uncomfortable when Obama

and Romney stand toe to toe, pointing fingers at one another.

They expect better from their leaders.

Meanwhile, Romney had a seven-point lead Thursday among likely voters, according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll — 52 percent

to 45 percent. Romney led 48 percent to 47 percent among registered voters.

Let’s hope Bob Schieffer of CBS’ “Face

the Nation” does a better job Monday than previous debate moderators.

They failed to

keep track of time and let situations get out of hand. Candy

Crowley of CNN injected herself into Tuesday’s encounter, which

is inexcusable for any journalist serving as a moderator.

American foreign policy is at a crossroads. Maybe this last debate will tell us who can do a better job in that area. What

we need is more dynamic leadership on the home front and abroad.

           •••

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com