The world has its eyes set on the US Presidential Elections coming up in November and the campaigns and debates have caught the attention of a vast majority of people living in different parts of the world. For those who are not following the election campaigns at all, I should inform you about the candidates in question. The Democratic Party nominee this time is America’s standing President, Barrack Hussein Obama who is also the first African American to hold this position. On the other hand, the Republican Party nominee for the elections is an American businessman, Mitt Romney, who was the Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. In the four-year term as the President, Obama has had numerous accomplishments and perceptibly a few failures to his account. Amongst his most talked-about achievements are the passing of the health-care reform which would cover over 32 million uninsured Americans under a universal health insurance beginning in 2014. His efforts had a huge role in ending the war in Iraq by Dec 18, 2011. The government under his presidency toppled Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator, to defend the citizens of Libya. He also told the Egyptian President and autocrat, Hosni Mubarak to step down. Obama effectively improved the image of America abroad. The most credible achievement under his leadership has been the elimination and death of Osama Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda chief in an attempt to show America’s intolerance towards bloodshed and terrorism. Obama has hence made a place in the hearts of many people. If we talk about Mitt Romney, he has received five honorary doctorates. Additionally, the Time magazine included him in the list of the 100 most influential people in the World in 2012.
Obama and Romney had a face-off in three Presidential debates wherein they tried to put forth their policies relating to different sectors and areas, offended their counterpart and defended themselves. Each debate lasted for 90 minutes and turned out to be amongst the most-discussed headlines this month. Basically, the Presidential debates are too short and superficial to give the audience a complete and authentic picture of a candidate’s policy prescriptions. Yet, they have a part in making up or changing a voter’s point of view regarding his/her future leader. I went through the transcripts of the three debates and sincerely, it is clearly not viable to encompass all the sensitive issues discussed, the nominees’ individual perspectives or their proposals. Nevertheless, I would try to cover a few essentials of the three debates which caused a lot of stir all over.
The First Presidential Debate:
It took place on 3rd October, 2012. In the 90 minutes for which the debate lasted, the candidates debated matters relating to the domestic policy, health, taxes, economy etc. Though unexpected, but Romney turned out to be more confident and self-assured. His responses seemed more elegant and he thrived because of his style and personality. However, Obama’s responses to the questions were moderated and more calculated. He lacked the passion and flair which could have made people have faith in him and his policies. Subsequently, he was engaged in defending himself rather than offending Romney which had a negative impact on the analysts and audience. One imperative subject in this debate was that of creating jobs in response to the growing unemployment in the US. Obama laid emphasis on investing in education and training, developing new sources of energy and helping small businesses and companies to prosper. Romney answered this issue using a five part strategy which included getting energy independent, opening up more trade, and enhancing skill development by having the best schools in the world, working towards a balanced budget and backing small businesses. He said that the last four years depicted Obama’s plans and ideas and they haven’t been very efficient.
In relation to the economic reforms, Romney wishes to provide tax relief to the middle class people and not the high-income ones. He claimed that gasoline prices, electric rates, food process, health care costs etc have gone up under the President, evidently crushing the middle-income families. In general, he advocated the idea of generating revenue by providing work opportunities to more people, getting them a higher pay and then making them pay taxes. Thus, America can achieve both growth and a balanced budget.
According to the reports and several polls, Romney clearly was the winner of the first Presidential debate. But, the major question here is the substance and accuracy of his statements. Some correspondents claimed that Romney’s declaration comprised outright factual lies or complete oratory fraudulence. The press observers said that Romney was sharper, more prepared and more aggressive than Obama.
After this debate, the CNN flash poll result claimed that 67% people felt that Romney had won whereas only 25% vouched for Obama.
Read the transcript here.
The Second Presidential Debate:
This took place on 16th October, 2012. It began with a 20-year old college student’s question to the candidates on his prospects of getting a job once he graduated. Romney kept revolving around the fact that in the past four years, the number of jobs created were very less because Obama’s methodology wasn’t good enough. He claimed that he knew what it took to create more employment opportunities but his goals were not comprehensible and convincing. To the same question, Obama’s reply turned out to be a little more impressive when he discussed his plans of building manufacturing jobs in the country again. He also talked about the tax code wherein the government would give incentives to companies that are investing and creating jobs in the US. He discussed about enhancing the quality of the education system, building energy resources for the future thereby investing in wind, bio fuel and solar energy. Also, he spoke about the idea of using the money being spent in war in the last decade to rebuild America; roads, bridges, school etc.
In a major part of this debate, Romney tried to accentuate the little success of Obama’s policies which, according to him, became apparent in these four years. For the question concerning energy, Obama claimed that oil production had increased to its highest level in 16 years under his leadership.
Some economic forecasters say that Romney has promised to create approximately 12 million jobs over the next four years which is actually about as many jobs as the economy is already expected to create. The debate included discussions on topics like gun control, contraception coverage, women and jobs, immigration reform, security in Libya (especially after the US Consulate attack) etc.
According to the Gallup Opinion Polls, 51% said that Obama won this debate whereas 38% were on Romney’s side. CNN Poll also asserts Obama’s win. Eventually, Obama had a small victory over Romney in this one.
Read the transcript here.
The Third and Final Presidential Debate:
This took place on 22nd October, 2012. This debate focused on national security and foreign policy. Here, Obama enunciated his policies more vigorously, offering more detail and a consistent foreign policy rationale. Romney’s statements seemed all crammed up and memorized which added to his disadvantage. Obama discussed about the international coalition carried out which made it possible to liberate Libya from its dictator. Surprisingly, Romney agreed with Obama on numerous issues including those concerning Syria, Iranian sanctions, Israel, Afghanistan and Hosni Mubarak. However, Robert G. Kaiser, the Associate Editor of Washington Post says that he was a little disappointed in Obama because he probably restated his 2008 speeches and made similar promises.
Some people are of the view that Romney’s positions keep changing and his proposals are actually not very different from what the US is doing right now. In the third debate, Obama got pretty offensive over foreign policy and accused Romney of repetitively tumbling on major international concerns. Romney appeared unsure at times and occasionally stumbled over his lines. Obama further declared Romney as reckless and off beam.
Overall, the third debate didn’t have any fresh claims or topics and hence a number of people found it dreary and repetitive. There was no talk on the Benghazi attack. This debate did not in effect change the voters’ opinions about either candidate. Yet, in accord with the polls, Obama was the clear winner in the final face-off.
Read the transcript here.
The Presidential elections are slated to take place on 6th November, 2012.
I hope this write-up helped you get a brief insight on the campaigning and debates. I tried to include the vital issues here, though might have failed or faltered at some places. As I come to an end, do tell me, whom are you with? Obama or Romney?
References: Washington Monthly, Wikipedia, RollingStone, Inquisitr, New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Hindu Business Line, Slate.com, CNN etc.