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Local party leaders each claim victory in debate
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Local Republican and Democratic Party leaders believed their presidential candidate gained the upper hand in Monday’s final debate, with each believing their man appeared more calm and in command.
Armed with four years of experience on foreign policy, President Barack Obama won Monday’s debate on that topic with Republican candidate Mitt Romney, according to Jeff Adkins, chairman of the Martinsville Henry County Democratic Committee.
“Obviously it played to the president’s strong suit,” Adkins said Monday night, shortly after the third and final debate between Obama and Romney ended. Noting that Obama is the commander-in-chief, Adkins said foreign policy “is solid ground for him. He looked relaxed, assured of himself.”
Jeff Williams, chairman of the Martinsville Republican Committee, believed Romney was the victor in a similar fashion to the opening round.
“I think Romney repeated his first debate performance,” Williams said. “He was calm, he was collected, he was presidential and he knew what he was talking about. Obama didn’t have anything to stand on.”
In contrast, Adkins thought Romney looked tired. “To me, Romney looked more like his lines were memorized,” he said. “It looked like Romney agreed with anything Obama said.”
“It comes down to the question of who do you trust to be commander-in-chief,” Adkins said. “Obviously, President Obama has lived it for the past four years.”
With Virginia one of several key battleground states, each party seeks to gain control locally and statewide. Williams said he expects voters who are on the fence will see Romney as “more presidential.”
“I’m trying to look at things through the eyes of an undecided voter,” Williams said. He said Romney demonstrated a command of foreign and domestic policy issues, and “he commands enough respect for undecided voters who can see that Obama’s policies aren’t working.”
Kathryn Williams, president of the Southside Republican Women’s Club, said Obama “was defensive and negative. When the facts were presented to him, he responded with condescension,” she said. “I think he was very disingenuous.”
Adkins felt Obama’s strongest moment of the evening was when he responded to Romney’s criticism that he had not visited Israel during an overseas trip. Obama responded that he did go there and met young people and children who had lived through the nation’s conflict, Adkins said. “He made it personal,” he added.
Romney’s strongest points were when he brought the conversation back to the economy, “where he has a slight lead,” Adkins said. “Obama has a huge lead in foreign policy.”
Romney widely was considered to have won the opening debate, while Obama came across as more involved and passionate in the second. Neither man, Jeff Williams said, established an emotional edge this time around. The format of the third debate appealed to each man’s strengths, he said.
“I think both men come across as being able to relax, and they’re both polished enough to be able to reach out and appeal to people,” he added.
In the end, the debates were about the issues, Jeff Williams said, and Obama’s handling of those issues do not do him credit.
“I feel like Obama’s performance was inferior to Romney’s in terms of his command of the issues. I think he’s vulnerable because of his record,” Williams added.
Adkins said Obama’s performance in the first debate still is shocking, but he “brought out his ‘A’ game” at the second and third debates.
Two weeks before the election, the candidates are tied in the polls, Adkins said. Among likely voters, they are tied or Romney holds a slight lead. Among registered voters, Obama has a slight lead, he added.
Romney has the support of many older people, and seniors generally vote, Adkins said. Conversely, Obama has the support of many younger people, who sometimes do not vote, he added.
“The Obama team has to get the vote out, and that will determine the election,” Adkins added.
Williams said he believes Romney will carry Virginia and North Carolina because the states are “mirror images of each other.” He said Romney merely needs to stay the course the rest of the way.
“I think to win, Romney just needs to continue to show his calm leadership, and let Obama’s lack of record and lack of leadership collapse on itself,” he added.
With three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate now in the rearview mirror, Kathryn Williams said “I would expect more negativity” leading up to Nov. 6.