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Sun-Times stars on debate: Who won, who flubbed — and what to expect on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Carol Marin

Carol Marin

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Updated: October 22, 2012 11:17PM



MARK BROWN

Winner: Obama

Four years experience as commander-in-chief is a clear advantage for President Barack Obama, and he exploited it well. Mitt Romney did nothing to hurt himself, but foreign policy clearly is not a strength at this point in his political career.

Which candidate looked the most presidential? Obama looked like a guy who has lived with these foreign policy issues and sweated life-and-death decisions. Romney came across as a guy who has read a lot of briefing papers and has practiced pronouncing the names of world leaders. Nice job on Ahmadinejad, by the way.

Best one liner: Obama on Romney’s complaint that the Navy has the fewest ships in history: “Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets . . . This is not a game of Battleship or counting ships.”

Moment I was most tempted to switch to Bears game: When Romney started talking again about his “five simple steps” to turn around the economy.

CAROL MARIN

Winner: Obama

Mitt Romney did well — but “I love teachers” and “I like cars” still gave an awkward edge to a pretty good but uneven performance. President Barack Obama simply did better. He summoned the “horses and bayonets.”

Who Loves Israel More? Apparently, they both do. In the hanging-chad state of Florida where Jewish voters can determine the outcome, both men did back flips to show their fidelity to the security of Israel.

Who Killed bin Laden? C’mon, you know the answer.

Stagecraft: In many ways, it was the controlling force of this encounter. Seldom have we seen two men so thoroughly drilled in controlling facial expressions to stifle the evident contempt they each feel.

Subliminal Messaging: Obama with pink breast cancer bracelet.

Craziest Moment: Mitt Romney was actually TWEETING me while debating Obama. Total multi-tasker!

STEVE HUNTLEY

Winner: Romney

He kept to the big picture on Middle East problems and Muslim extremism, offered a specific policy on Syria, outlined weaknesses in President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and used the debate again to advocate his economic agenda.

Doubling down on his campaign strategy: Not able to defend his record or propose a new economic agenda, Obama kept up his campaign’s strategy of attacking Mitt Romney. At one point, Romney fired back: “Attacking me is not a strategy” for foreign policy.

The biggest flub: Obama brought the foreign policy discussion to the domestic economy, giving Romney the opportunity to outline his five-point plan to encourage domestic energy development, advocate education policies, increase trade, encourage entrepreneurs and small business, and balance the budget.

Which candidate looked the most presidential: Obama is president, but he looked small when he interrupted Romney several times, when he glared at his opponent, and when he turned sarcastic and condescending in saying America doesn’t need as big a Navy as it had in 1916 because the military doesn’t need as many horses as it did then.

The biggest whopper of the night: Obama said Romney doesn’t have different ideas on Syria, ignoring Romney’s advocacy of finding a way to arm rebels friendly to the West.

Bottom line: Romney came across as thoughtful and presidential on foreign policy.

RICHARD ROEPER

Winner: Obama

Gadhafi’s dead, bin Laden’s dead, and Barack Obama is the incumbent. With the focus of the night on foreign policy, a former governor from Massachusetts was going to be the underdog from the get-go. Obama came across as confident, well prepared and laser-focused. He also delivered the best one-liners of the night. While not a knockout, it was clear-cut, decisive win by Obama.

Boom! In perhaps the most devastating rejoinder in any of the three debates, Obama responded to Romney’s “fewest ships since 1917” charge by reminding Romney we also have fewer horses and bayonets.

Nice Use of Prepared One-Liner: Obama telling Romney the 1980s called and want their foreign policy back.

First Memorable Line: Romney: “We can’t kill our way out of this mess.”

Like Counting Sheep, It Puts Us to Sleep: The president counted to three to make one point and then counted to five to make another point. Later, Romney launched into his own five-point argument.

Moment Sure to be Parodied on “Saturday Night Live”: Romney saying we have fewer ships than at any point since before women could vote. Look for an “SNL” skit in which “Obama” runs down the list of things that have changed since then. “We have 50 states, and the NBA, and the electric guitar . . .”

Which Candidate Looked Most Presidential: The president.



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