Also, the debate happened during Game 7 of the National League Championship Series and Monday Night Football. So the television viewership for this debate was probably smaller as well compared to the other debates.
The campaigns ground game of turning out voters might play a far bigger role than Monday nights debate about foreign policy, which is far less important to voters than the economy.
And polls indicate the economy is a strength for Romney, who shifted the discussion at one point to his five-point economic plan. The candidates talked about class sizes, unemployment and even mentioned Medicaid.
Obama made sure to mention the killing of Osama bin Laden and suggested Romney wouldnt have done the same thing.
Knowing bin Ladens death was Obamas strong suit, Romney mentioned it first to take the oomph out of the issue for the president, congratulating Obama on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaida.
Obama didnt treat Romney as kindly.
Im glad that you agree that we have been successful in going after al-Qaida, Obama said. But I have to tell you that, you know, your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East.
But Romney repeatedly battled back when Obama said al-Qaida was being demolished.
Weve watched this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos occur, you see al-Qaida rushing in, you see other jihadist groups rushing in, Romney said. And and theyre throughout many nations in the Middle East.
Later, Romney said Obama had failed to label China a currency manipulator. Obama disagreed with Romneys approach and noted the challenger had opposed his administration when it fought China in a trade dispute over tires.
NO CUBA TALK
Foreign trade was barely mentioned. Despite the 50th year anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, there was no discussion of Cuba policy.
Obama stayed on message, noting that his administration backed the removal of Libyas despot without the loss of American troops. He also suggested Romney would want to keep more troops in Iraq, a war that Obama brought to an end.
Obama also accused Romney of considering Russia not al-Qaida as a top threat. Romney said Obama was twisting his words.
Romney, in turn, criticized the presidents deal, struck with Congress, that could trim $500 billion from the defense budget over a decade. Obama said the cuts wouldnt happen, but he didnt specify how they would be avoided.
Staying on offense, Obama criticized Romney for wanting to boost defense spending in a time of deficits.
Romney said he was trying to keep America strong and he said Obama has weakened the nations relations with Israel especially over Iran.
Obama disagreed sharply and said Romney couldnt show any real policy differences.
Im glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that were taking, Obama said. There have been times, Governor where it sounded like you thought that youd do the same things we did, but youd say them louder and somehow that that would make a difference.
But whether points like that will make a difference in the presidential race is yet to be seen.