Mitt Romney’s self-confident and commanding performance combined with Barack Obama’s virtual no-show at the first presidential debate turned around the race for the White House more than any other debate in the 52-year history of these exercises.
In the second debate, the former Massachusetts governor held his own and then some on substance against two opponents — Obama and self-disgracing moderator Candy Crowley — while delivering devastating indictments of Obama’s stewardship. Team Obama has not stopped the bleeding.
But as well as he did in the first two presidential debates, Romney missed several clear opportunities to make three crucial points. He has only one more chance to make them. If he does, he could turn what is beginning to look like a victory into a mandate.
Perhaps Romney has failed to assert the three important items which follow because he and his advisers have fallen into the “everybody knows these things” trap. Most people don’t know them.
The first: the government, with Obama’s eager acquiescence and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid serving as gatekeeper, has not passed a budget since April 9, 2009, over three and one-half years ago.
It’s bad enough that this situation has been a major factor in locking in trillion-dollar deficits for four consecutive years. What’s worse is that it has fostered an unaccountable and all too often lawless “anything goes” environment throughout the government. The latest example: Health and Human Services Secretary Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ transparent attempt to avoid hitting Medicare Advantage participants with steep pre-election, Obamacare-driven premium hikes and benefit reductions by creating an $8.3 billion “demonstration project” which the Government Accountability Office has said can’t possibly “demonstrate anything.” In layman’s terms, it’s a slush fund whose sole purpose is to protect Obama’s standing with seniors until after the votes are counted.
The second point is also budget-related, and ties directly to Obama’s whining about excessive partisanship. The president has been quite successful in uniting Democrats and Republicans in bipartisan agreement on one thing: their opposition to his own budget proposals. In the most recent examples, both the House and the Senate unanimously rejected Obama’s February attempt earlier this year.
A friend called me Thursday morning in utter exasperation over these first two points, telling me that he had discussed them with two dozen people during the past several days. He emphasized that he considers these relatives, friends, and professional acquaintances far more informed than the average American, and that they all try within the constraints of their busy schedules to keep up with current events. Not one of them was aware that the federal government has been budget-free during most of Obama’s term, or that Congress unanimously rejected the president’s submission this year.
This is largely because the establishment press has kept these facts virtually hidden. After the House vote in May, the headline at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, was: “GOP-run House easily rejects Obama’s budget.” The wire service’s Andrew Taylor didn’t acknowledge the unanimous roll-call rejection until his fifth paragraph.
Since the final debate on Monday will primarily concern foreign policy, Romney may be limited to making the two points just noted in his final statement. That’s not the case with the third item he needs to mention.
At a campaign even in Iowa on Wednesday, Obama gave Romney an opening to make that third point when he bogusly attempted to ridicule his challenger for not adequately explaining his economic plan:
Usually when a politician tells you he’s going to wait until after the election to explain a plan to you, they don’t have a pleasant surprise in store for you.
That statement presents the perfect opportunity for Romney to let Americans know what Obama, when he thought he couldn’t be heard, told Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev in March about his ability to accommodate Russian demands that we weaken our missile defenses:
After my election I have more flexibility.
Romney should bring up the exchange and tell America, “When a president of the United States tells a foreign leader whose country is not on fully friendly terms with us that he will ‘have more flexibility’ after ‘my election,’ he doesn’t have a pleasant surprise in store for the American people.”
If one is to believe the polls — a dangerous exercise, as PJ Media’s Zombie has noted, when those who conduct these surveys are failing to reach almost 40 percent of those they wish to contact and can only take one in seven of those reached to completion — Romney could be on the verge of taking command of the race. That’s great, but it certainly doesn’t justify anything less than an all-out rhetorical effort at Monday’s final debate. The worst president by far in my lifetime and every down-ticket politician who has supported him deserve the most decisive electoral beatdown Romney and Republicans can deliver.
Team Romney needs to treat all of the states considered toss-ups and the growing roster of those moving from “safe Obama” to “leaning Obama” the way Ronald Reagan did in very analogous circumstances 32 years ago. The Gipper, looking at a color-coded map with state-by-state electoral strategies, famously said: “They all look winnable to me.” He took 44 of them in his thumping of incumbent Jimmy Carter.
If he tells the American people what they need to hear and what the Obama apparatchik media has mostly kept from them, a victory approaching that magnitude may be within Mitt Romney’s grasp.