Three presidential debates have come and gone. And so people nationwide have had the opportunity to see the Mitt Romney we here in Massachusetts and New Hampshire know. People have seen that he is not an ogre, that he is not out to rape the middle class to benefit the rich, in short, that he is nothing like the “evil Republican” stereotype Democrats have tried to stick on him.
Instead, viewers have seen that Romney is presidential and has a strong grasp of the economic principles needed to lift our country out of the economic doldrums. His is a message of optimism that resonates with the American people. It stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s constant complaint that he inherited all this misfortune from President George W. Bush.
Indeed, Obama was dealt a poor hand. But he has played it just as poorly. Nearly four years into his presidency, the nation continues to struggle economically. We are $6 trillion deeper in debt than when Obama took office, with little to show for the expense. Unemployment continues to hover around 8 percent, higher still if one accounts for those who have given up looking for work. Under Obama’s stimulus plan, the jobless rate was supposed to be approaching 5 percent by now. Instead, millions more people are receiving food stamps or other public assistance and middle-class incomes continue to decline.
On matters of foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s debate, Obama was supposed to make his comeback. Sitting presidents have a natural advantage over challengers in the foreign policy field. They have been making the tough decisions — no enviable task — for four years. Yet Romney managed to hold his own.
Indeed, Romney may not have been critical enough of Obama’s foreign policy performance, particularly the president’s refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he came to the United Nations to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Too frequently during the debate, Obama displayed an unpleasant snarkiness, attacking Romney in a personal and unbecoming manner. After Romney said that, at 285 ships, the Navy had fewer ships than at any point since 1917, Obama responded with the verbal equivalent of one of Joe Biden’s smirks.
“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
Of course, the military still issues bayonets to soldiers and Marines. And, as a Washington Post blog noted, our first troops in Afghanistan in 2001 were on horseback.
After each of several personal jabs from Obama, Romney countered, “Mr. President, attacking me is not an agenda.”
The contrast underscores what we saw when we endorsed Romney for president not long after the conventions. President Obama’s campaign goal is to miscast Romney as something he is not, a threat to the poor and middle class. For Romney, this campaign is about getting America back on its feet economically and securing our position as a world leader.
That’s what led us to our early endorsement. Nothing we’ve seen in the debates leads us to regret that decision.