Mitt Romney Thinks He's Won The Election, And Last Night He Just Played Not To Lose

mitt romney debate

Photo: Getty Images

The final presidential debate is over, and Mitt Romney played it very safe, passing over opportunities to go on offence and generally avoiding confrontation with President Barack Obama. The Republican candidate had a largely unremarkable debate, devoid of any major flubs, but also lacking in memorable attack lines or zingers. While the incumbent came out swinging, Romney repeatedly passed up opportunities to go after his opponent, even on key campaign flashpoints like trade with China and the White House’s handling of last month’s attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. 

Instead, Romney once again tacked far to the centre and actually embraced many of Obama’s foreign policies, offering up positions that differed only marginally from those of his Democratic opponent on issues like U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, foreign aid and intervention in the Middle East, and the use of drones.

In the immediate aftermath of the debate, several conservative pundits bemoaned the Republican nominee’s performance as a missed opportunity. 

Here’s a tweet from Glenn Beck: 

glenn beck tweet

Photo: Twitter / @glennbeck

And here’s conservative commentator Laura Ingraham: 

laura ingraham debate tweet

Photo: Twitter / @IngrahamAngle

laura ingraham debate tweet

Photo: Twitter / @IngrahamAngle

laura ingraham debate tweet

Photo: Twitter / @IngrahamAngle

But in the end, most conservative pundits and Republican strategists agreed that the “play it safe” strategy may have been the smartest choice for the Republican nominee, who has so far struggled to effectively attack Obama on foreign policy issues. Moreover, in Monday’s debate, Romney faced the difficult challenge of setting himself apart from his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush, whose national security policies remain widely unpopular. 

But with his campaign still riding the momentum from his strong performance in the first presidential debate, Romney didn’t need a big win tonight at his third and final match-up with Obama. He just needed to prevent a routing — and avoid stumbles like the botched response on Libya that he gave in last week’s town hall debate.

To that end, Romney accomplished what his campaign had set out to do during the final debate. It remains to be seen, however, whether Romney’s momentum really is strong enough to carry him through a merely passable performance.

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