Romney, Obama Fighting for Women's Vote in Final Debate

Monday, 22 Oct 2012 06:05 PM

By David A. Patten

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GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s fate in the final weeks leading up to the election may well hinge on appearing presidential in Monday’s debate while avoiding the “saber rattling” that tends to put off the women voters that both campaigns need in order to win the election, analysts tell Newsmax.

President Obama has been watching his “gender gap” advantage among women voters steadily slip away. The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Monday showed Obama nursing an 8-point advantage among women – his lowest edge to date in that poll.

A poll issued Monday by Quinnipiac University and CBS News showed President Obama clinging to a 5-point lead among women in swing-state Ohio – just half the lead he enjoyed there as recently as Sept. 26.

If Romney can assure women he can be trusted in the foreign-affairs arena, he may roll on to win the election.

“A good deal of the research on women's opinions about war suggests that they tend to think in terms of not wanting to send their children into battle and believing more deeply in the need to work towards peaceful resolutions of conflict,” Villanova University political science professor Lara Brown tells Newsmax. “I would think that if Romney ably makes the ‘peace through strength’ and ‘just wars’ arguments, then he will do fine with both men and women.”

Editor's Note
: Obama Movie Exposes His Vision for America.  Click here.

Any doubt Team Obama intends to paint Romney a risky alternative during Monday’s foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla., was put to rest by senior campaign adviser David Axelrod’s appearance Sunday on "Meet the Press."

“People want to know that they have a strong, steady hand in the Oval Office, and they don’t want someone who’s reckless and who has been consistently wrong on foreign policy issues as Governor Romney has,” Axelrod told NBC host David Gregory. “We all remember his 'Dukes of Hazard' Tour of international destinations over the summer where he not only roiled countries that are not friendly to us but our best ally, Britain."

Axelrod continued: “He was wrong on Libya. He was wrong on Iraq. So, you know, the people are going to have a chance to take a measure of these two guys and say, 'Who do I want as the commander-in-chief? Who do I want leading the war on terror?' … I think that’s a very stark contrast.”

Those prepping Romney for the debate have no doubt cautioned him on the importance of phrasing his foreign-policy positions carefully, in order to avoid any utterance that the Obama campaign could use to scare women voters.

The Romney campaign appears to be focused on articulating reasoned, centrist positions on issues ranging from foreign trade to relations with Israel to countering Iran’s rogue nuclear ambitions.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Monday, Mitt Romney’s senior foreign policy adviser, Dan Senor, took issue with the suggestion that the intelligence briefings Romney has received have led him to moderate his rhetoric on Iran.

“I will say he has always argued that the goal is a diplomatic solution, a peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Senor. “In order to achieve that diplomatic resolution, Iran has to believe that we are serious about economic pressure, that we are serious about political and diplomatic pressure – meaning we have missed opportunities like the Green Revolution in 2009.”

Senor added: “And the military threat -- while we shouldn’t use it -- should be credible in the eyes of the Iranians. Now President Obama has done some of these things right. The problem is he hasn’t done all of them right. So the mullahs and the ayatollahs in Tehran have seen Washington sending mixed messages. And so are our allies.”

Countering Obama’s attacks, while avoiding the use of fiery rhetoric that could be used to hurt his standing with women, may prove the key to whether Romney can continue to build momentum as he leaves the third and final debate and heads out on the campaign trail to begin the race to the finish line.

“The mission for the president is paint Romney like somebody who has got his finger on the trigger and can’t wait to push it,” says Bradley Blakeman, former senior staffer for George W. Bush. “Romney has to play it more like Ronald Reagan, that you speak softly and carry a big stick, and you send a message of leadership, fear, respect, and a military second to none. But don’t do it in bravado. Do it in a calm, assured language.”

Editor’s Note:
Who do you think won the last debate?  Click here to vote in urgent poll
.

If Romney can achieve that balance without uttering a gaffe the Obama campaign can exploit, it would be a major step toward his capturing the White House. Also, talking points obtained by CNN prior to the debate indicate Romney will look for opportunities to shift the discussion back to the economy, which is considered his strong point. He is expected to make the point that maintaining an effective national defense posture requires a thriving, growing economy.

The Wall Street Journal-NBC poll released Monday showed the two candidates deadlocked at 47 percent to 47 percent. State-level polls suggest Obama holds narrow leads in several Midwestern swing states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. But most analysts agree that it is a very bad sign for an incumbent to only have 47 percent of the vote in polls leading up to an election. The reason: The remaining undecided voters are likely to break for the less well-known challenger, versus an incumbent they don’t favor.

NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd remarked on MSNBC on Monday: “If you look at this national poll… and I said we came up with a poll the Sunday before election that said it was 47-47 [percent] before the election of any challenger and incumbent, I’d say seven times out of 10 [the] challenger wins that race.”

If Todd is right, that means the debate that begins 9 p.m. ET at Lynn University in Boca Raton may be the president’s last, best opportunity to seize back the momentum before a national television audience.

Beyond the Middle East, President Obama, in a bid to halt his deterioration with women, will have other targets in Monday’s debate. He is expected to focus on Romney’s view that Russia, rather than Iran or China, represents America’s No. 1 “geopolitical foe.” Also, look for him to attack Romney’s call to brand China a “currency manipulator,” which could have wide-reaching effects on trade relations with China, the world’s second largest economy.

The debate, to be hosted by longtime CBS newsman and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, with have six, 15-minute segments. The topics will include America’s role in the world, military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan (twice), Israel and Iran, the changing Middle East, and the rise of China.

Whatever the topic, the outcome may depend on whether Romney keeps his cool under fire.

Says Villanova’s Brown: “If Romney sounds too much like he's ready to strike anyone, anytime -- and he doesn't seem to be discerning or circumspect in identifying and strategizing about America's threats in the world -- then he could well lose the support of some women who were beginning to trust him.”

Editor’s Note:
Who do you think won the last debate?  Click here to vote in urgent poll
.

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