Photo: Farm crop circle visible from Interstate 80 eastbound near Atlantic, Iowa
NPR has the transcript and audio of the debate.
Remark I think will resonate most with Independent voters: Romney: "Attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country."
Winner of the debate: The Taliban. Arif Rafik and Long War Journal's Bill Roggio pounded home this point during their analysis of the Pakistan-Afghanistan part of the debate for John Batchelor -- as if anyone who closely follows the Afghan War needed any more pounding.
(The Rafik-Roggio discussion starts at the 10 minute mark on the flash player.)
Best wrap-up: ABC TV's Rick Klein (Mitt Romney keeps command and looks to the future) with these remarks, which I think are the consensus among seasoned political campaign analysts:
Both candidates seemed more intent on redoing the first debate, on domestic policy -- Romney surely because he was strong then, Obama because he wasn’t.Yes. It's really hard to run on hope and change the second time around when many Americans can't find work and many with a job are barely living from paycheck to paycheck.
There’s no going back, though, to a point where a single debate could change the trajectory of a campaign. Nothing happened tonight to change the race’s direction -- and Romney walks away strong after playing on Obama’s turf, competing for his job.
Romney has a proven record of turning around large and complex organizations that are flailing, and he has a proven record of breaking through political deadlocks to get the business of government done. That's what Americans need right now. What the debates did was assure voters that Romney knows how to act like a President and Commander-in-Chief and that he has a manner they can live with four years.
This just in: John Batchelor's take on the debate, from his blog:
Spoke Mona Charen, Mary Kissel, Salena Zito, Lara Brown, David Drucker, Brett Arends, Bill Roggio, Arif Rafiq, John Fund, Gordon Chang, Reza Kahlili, Kori Schake, Gene Countrymen in re the final presidential debate and learned that the general opinion was the Mr. Romney presented a careful, measured, quiet, pacific demeanor in comparison to Mr. Obama's strident, accusatory, argumentative, sometimes slashing style.
Why did Mr. Obama choose to go on the offensive? An answer that is repeated elsewhere of weight is that Mr. Obama knows he is trailing in the polls and sinking in the Electoral College, and he knows to make up ground he must rock his opponent.
Neither candidate said anything new tonight; both repeated campaign lines and criticisms they had made of each other before. And yet Mr. Obama aimed at Mr. Romney as if he could knock him from the field with barbs and disdain.
Mr. Romney arrived with a strategy of passive aggression: he aimed to present himself as plausible and peaceable. The mistake he aimed to avoid was to appear or sound warlike in any fashion that would allow Mr. Obama to connect Romney to the Bush administration, 2001-2009. Romney not only achieved his modest aim -- Mitt Romney Peacenik -- but also he presented pieces of the economic vision for his candidacy -- twelve million jobs, reducing deficits to avoid becoming like Greece --that the president has not yet answered with the Obama second term vision.
Foreign policy does not change votes unless you make a foreign policy mistake that undermines credibility or suggests instability. Mr. Romney avoided mistakes and overstatements. Cleverly, Mr. Romney moved some of the conversation back to the domestic economy where he believes Mr. Obama is losing his mandate; however Mr. Romney chattered about the disappointment of the last four years in a sober, pensive, resigned way, not ever sounding accusatory to the president.
The evening displayed the magic of role reversal. I asked all my guests, "Who is the challenger?" and routinely they answered, "The president."
World turned upside down.