RUSH: To the audio sound bites! This morning on CBS This Morning, I have a portion here of National Correspondent Dean Reynolds’ report on a panel of undecided Ohio voters who watched last night’s debate and what they got from it.
Now, you can’t see it, obviously. This is radio. But Norah O’Donnell’s face in this sound bite is priceless. These people cannot believe what they are hearing. What we have here is an undecided Ohio voter on this panel, Norah O’Donnell and the co-host Charlie Rose. And they start off here with Dean Reynolds, who is a CBS correspondent in Ohio.
REYNOLDS: When it was all over, they were asked who won. The president got two votes. Governor Romney got six. All had made up their minds, at least for now.
Was this the deciding factor?
MAN: I mean, something can change tomorrow that —
REYNOLDS: After all, they still have two weeks to really truly decide. Dean Reynolds, Steubenville, Ohio.
O’DONNELL: Well, look there, guys. It looks like Romney won in Dean Reynolds’ focus group.
ROSE: And this was from Ohio! Steubenville, Ohio! (pause) Interesting.
RUSH: They were shocked. You shoulda seen their faces. They could not believe it. And Dean Reynolds says, “Well, there’s still time, still time for them to make up their minds! There’s still time for them to really, truly change their minds.” So six out of eight. The Luntz focus group was much the same. There were basically 27 people there, and 25 of them thought that Obama won the debate. But they’re all voting for Romney.
Do you know why? Because foreign policy doesn’t matter to ’em. They all agreed with Romney’s point that foreign policy’s wonderful but it’s worthless without a strong America at home. A strong American economy is what enables foreign policy and a great defense posture. We don’t have a strong economy at home, and all those people in the Luntz group in Ft. Lauderdale on debate points, it was Obama hands down.
It was Obama won, but it didn’t matter.
That’s why I say the substance of this debate, which is foreign policy, was the least important of all three of these debates. There was a CNN focus group after the debate. The CNN focus group was identical. Well, it was close to identical to the Luntz group. The one thing noteworthy about the CNN focus group was that they were unhappy when Romney pivoted back to foreign policy from a discussion of the economy.
They wanted to hear more on the economy. The CNN focus group also thought Romney won this thing. Not won it, but was better of the two. That’s really the point. Obama won the debate but that didn’t matter. Romney was far more preferable as a president to all of these focus groups. And the media? Richard Cohen here in the Washington Post is very grumpy.
“Both candidates lied. Obama might have been the more egregious of the two.” USA Today, Melanie Eversley: “Horses, Bayonets and Boredom Characterize Debate,” and the headline here is just the beginning of a less-than-joyous review by the media. This was not the knockout that they were hoping for. Let me tell you something: The world media was hoping for blood in the water — Romney blood in the water — and they didn’t get it.
They are depressed today.
They can’t say the Mittmentum was reversed, not legitimately.
They’re not even trying to. From The Politico, Glenn Thrush. I mean, these guys are part of the Obama reelection campaign organization, and the headline of The Politico piece by Glenn Thrush here: “Mitt Romney: I Come in Peace.” On page two is it printed out: “Romney was at his most effective when calmly articulating his economic case and calling out the president for failing to articulate a detailed vision for his second term.”
Romney “showed an easy mastery” of foreign policy details.
That’s what I figured the agenda was. You almost could say it’s rope-a-dope, but what Romney did last night made me think of something. Do you remember back during one of the debates with Bush in 2000? After one of the debates with Bush or a foreign policy appearance, they had to call Condoleezza Rice out to assure everybody that George W. Bush knew where India was, that he knew what the subcontinent was. Do you remember that? I do. I was thinking about it last night.
I remember Condi Rice coming out and saying, “Of course the governor is acutely aware of the problems of the subcontinent!” The “subcontinent” is India, for all intents and purposes. It was a question about whether Bush knew his geography. Romney last night was showing everybody that he knows his stuff, that he is profoundly informed, and that he is highly intelligent. Remember all the criticisms of Bush and the Republicans that they’re stupid, don’t know anything.
Romney just blew all of those criticisms that still persist out of the water, I thought.
I thought that was the secret to the strategy.