Tonight's Debate: Obama Must Highlight Recovery Achieved Since Taking Office

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[The View From Washington]

President Obama and Governor Romney will square off tonight in Boca Raton, FL., for the last of their three debates.  

This is going to be a bad night for a good debate due to two sporting events.

While President Obama is discussing the tragedy in Benghazi, his administration's agreement to discuss a non-existent nuclear threat in Iran, and how Romney has no clue about foreign policy as demonstrated by his “Insult the World Tour," a lot of the potential voters that the President needs to reach will be watching the Detroit Lions play the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football --others will be tuned to the broadcast of the Giants vs. the Cardinals Game 7 of the NLCS.

For as important as this debate is for President Obama, he never should have allowed the race to get to this point. On November 7 Obama supporters may look back at the first debate between Obama and Romney lamenting what should have been.  

According to Real Clear the day of the first debate President Obama led Romney in the national poll 49 percent to 46 percent. In most of the battleground states President Obama led Romney as well.  In Florida Obama was up 48% to 46%, in Pennsylvania Obama was up 50% to 42%, in North Carolina the race was tied 48% to 48%, and in Virginia Obama was up 48% to 44%.

Today, President Obama is tied in Virginia, down by 2 points in Florida, only up by 2 points in Ohio, and down by almost 6 points in North Carolina.

President Obama squandered his lead with a terrible first debate strategy, by being too conservative with his message, and not allowing more of his surrogates to go out on the stump.  According to The New York Times, he has been advised by the likes of senior campaign advisers and corporate lobbyists Anita Dunn, Hilary Rosen, and others.  They appear to have implemented the strategy of playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Here are a few examples, the Romney campaign is running an ad questioning where has the stimulus money gone and what were the benefits.  The simple answer to this question is --according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report from April 2010 through June 2010-- that the Recovery Act has raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points, and increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million.  

The President’s reelection campaign has yet to create an ad to highlight this reality and correct the misperception.

The Romney campaign is running an ad highlighting the high debt and deficit and its impact on the future of the nation’s children.  Part of the answer to this ad should be that President Obama took two wars that President Bush was waging off the books and put them on the books. This point needs to be quantified and put into a campaign ad.

In terms of the attack in Benghazi, the administration should be explaining the difference between information and intelligence. Just because “information” is available that does not necessarily equate to accurate information or intelligence.  

What got the US into the War in Iraq was operating off of bad information and Romney’s following the same pattern. Also, UN ambassador Rice always couched her comments in the context of the "best information" at that moment.

As David Ignatius recently reported in the Washington Post, CIA documents now support Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks. As the information became clearer, the statements from the White House became clearer.

This is going to be a bad night for a good debate.  The President must sharpen his message, get more of his surrogates out there speaking on his behalf, and get ads up to refute the misinformation coming from the Romney campaign as soon as the Romney ads start to run.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "Inside the Issues with  WilmerLeon," and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Go to , email:
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