8. “Flexibility” for Russia
In the foreign policy debate, Romney should bring up missile defense and Obama’s decision to scrap plans to site elements of the proposed system in Poland and the Czech Republic. He should also confront Obama with his infamous remarks to Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev — Obama said he would have “more flexibility” to conduct negotiations on missile defense after he was re-elected. Romney should challenge Obama to explain what he plans to offer Russia that would apparently be so unpalatable to American voters that he wouldn’t dare propose it while running for re-election.
Killer line: “From Poland to Israel, Mr. President, your administration has turned its back on America’s allies while appeasing countries whose interests are inimical to our own.”
9. Fast and Furious
Millions of Americans still know little or nothing of what is perhaps the biggest scandal of Obama’s presidency, although this week’s Univision special will hopefully have introduced more voters to the story. If Fast and Furious doesn’t come up directly in the debates, Romney will need to work it into a discussion about immigration or relations with Mexico. He should hit Obama for his administration’s efforts to thwart the investigation into the scandal, and demand that he fire Eric Holder.
Killer line: “At least two Americans and hundreds of Mexican civilians are dead because of a gunrunning operation overseen at the highest levels of your Justice Department. Why won’t your administration tell us the truth?”
10. The “47 percent” remark
Obama is likely to attack Romney on this, and Romney should take the opportunity to acknowledge that his words were poorly chosen (“as, Mr. President, I’m sure your words were poorly chosen when you talked of Americans in states such as Pennsylvania ‘clinging bitterly to their guns and religion’”). He should then take the opportunity to talk about the economic and moral implications of a growing dependency culture, as suggested here.
Killer line: “It’s Democrats who have written off millions of Americans by consigning them to a life on welfare, while still expecting them to turn out and vote for them every two years.”
Romney needs to move the needle further, and playing safe in the debates won’t do it. It’s long past time for him to introduce voters to the issues and to the Obama soundbites that the media would rather they didn’t know about.