Five Things I Wish Mitt Romney Would Say in the Debate

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Also, one of the commenters recommended: “Osama bin Laden was caught due to our extraordinary intelligence and military apparatus.  You, Mr President, didn’t build that.”

1.  When Obama misrepresents Romney’s proposals: “I think we can all agree that the person in this room with the most motive to mischaracterize my proposals is Barack Obama.  He can be very eloquent.  But one we’ve learned about this President is that the more eloquent he becomes, the less we can trust what he’s saying.  You learn this in the business world as well.  Salesmen with a great product to sell will simply give you the logic and the evidence.  It’s the salesmen who are trying to sell you a raw deal who deliver the most eloquent and exaggerated promises.  What this President has given us is beautiful promises and a disappointing product.”

Why: Barack Obama is reputedly the most eloquent human being in the history of the planet ever.  I think rumors of his eloquence have been greatly exaggerated, but there’s no question he delivers a good speech and a good commercial.  If I were debating Obama, I would want to turn his eloquence against him.  We all remember the flowery speeches and the over-the-moon promises.  Plant the seed of doubt that it’s precisely when his words soar that he’s trying to fly over a disastrous reality. 

2.  When Obama attacks Romney instead of offering a clear plan for his second term: “A strong President runs on the power of his record.  A visionary President runs on the power of his agenda for the next four years.  But this President has sought to purchase reelection by selling the American people a false bill of goods about who I am and what I propose.  President Obama wants you to be so scared of me that you’re willing to settle for another four years like the last.  But the American people don’t need to be scared, and they certainly don’t need four more years of a struggling economy.  Hope and change has been replaced by fear and blame.  The American people need to be inspired.  They need to know that their leaders are finally solving problems again and moving this nation forward.  So every time Barack Obama, instead of setting out clear plans for the future, engages in blame and personal attacks, I think the American people should say to themselves: There he goes again, giving us more attacks when what we need is an agenda.”

Why: This plants in the minds of Americans a powerful response when they see the next attack ad: What happened to hope and change, and wouldn’t a strong President be touting his record and his vision instead of slandering his opponent?

3.  When Obama references the death of bin Laden: “What we’re witnessing now around the world is the unraveling of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.  America made an extraordinary sacrifice in Iraq to stand against dictatorship and for democracy — and as other nations saw that they too could enjoy freedom and democracy and human rights, they began to stand up against the tyrants in their own lands.  In some cases, such as Iran and Syria, the President has done nothing meaningful to support those brave people who were rallying for freedom.  I’m not talking about a new war, but there are many things we can do to stand strong with our allies and stand together against our enemies.  In a few other cases, such as Egypt and Libya, this President chose to “lead from behind.”  But “leading from behind” is just another way of saying “following along.”  And the problem with leading from behind is that you don’t know you’re going.  Now Egypt and Libya have become hotbeds of terrorist activity — the kind of terrorist activity that led to the attack on our diplomats and the death of ambassador Stevens.

“President Obama speaks as though he has projected a strong foreign policy.  But it tells you something that Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro have endorsed Obama.  People who want a weak America want Obama to remain in office.  They understand that, with Obama in office, we will not stand as strongly for Israel.  In four years this President has never once set foot in Israel, our greatest ally in the region.  They understand that, with Obama in office, we will be more quick to compromise our values — such as Vice President Biden saying that he would not “second guess” China’s one-child policy, which leads to so many forced abortions of girls and even to infanticide.  They understand that, with Obama in office, America will be burdened by a massive and ever-increasing debt.  So I would suggest that you not take the advice of Hugo Chavez on whom to vote for.”

4.  On Benghazi: “President Obama in our last debate said that he was offended when I criticized his handling of the attack on Americans in Benghazi.  I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings, but I’m offended when an administration is more eager to lay the blame on an amateur video than it is clearly articulate the nature of our enemy.  The President claims that he has weakened al Qaeda, and his administration twisted itself in pretzels to avoid saying that this was a terrorist attack.  The President sent his ambassador to the UN onto all the Sunday talk shows, and she said the same thing that his press secretary said over and over again: this was a demonstration that arose spontaneously as a result of an American-made video.  But it wasn’t.  It was a terrorist assassination of an American ambassador.

“President Obama needs to come clean with the American people that the terrorist networks that would do us harm have only grown stronger in the past four years.  Our drone strikes have managed to take out some al Qaeda leadership.  And we can all celebrate that the American military and intelligence services under two Presidential administrations worked long and hard to get bin Laden.  The President gave the order, and I’m glad he did.  Of course, after an attack of that magnitude on our country, we go and get bin Laden when the opportunity arises.  But terrorist networks change and evolve.  They’re resurgent in places like Pakistan and Yemen and Libya, and we’re seeing countries like Russia and China delivering weapons systems and technologies into the hands of terror-sponsors in Iran and Syria.  President Obama told us from the beginning that he wanted America to take a humbler role in world affairs.  Apparently humble meant weak.  What he’s given the world is a weaker America, and our enemies have prospered in the space that he has given them.”

5.  On the Economy and Foreign Policy: “The Obama administration was very clever when it structured Obamacare so that many of the most onerous taxes and regulations would not kick in until after this election.  What this tells me is, Obama understands that Obamacare is not good for the economy.  The truth is, we really haven’t seen yet the full economy-killing effects of Obamacare yet.  We’ve only begun to see a glimpse, and already we have CEOs who are saying that they will not hire because of Obamacare, and companies planning to drop their coverage because of Obamacare, other companies planning layoffs because they will not be able to afford all the additional burdens on their businesses.  You might say, “This debate is supposed to be about foreign policy.”  Well, the economy is the basis of everything we do.  Without a strong and flourishing economy, our military cannot remain strong for long.

I applaud that President Obama wants to help the poor.  So do I.  Compassion compels us all to care for the poor.  But you do not care for the poor by running the economy into the ground.  And you do not equip America for a strong foreign policy by saddling it with mountains upon mountains of unsustainable debt.

President Obama is not out to destroy America.  He just doesn’t know how to fix what’s wrong, and the programs and proposals he has put forward are only going to make matters worse.  The problem with President Obama is not that he’s a bad person.  He ran an incredible campaign in 2008, and he has some admirable qualities.  The problem is that Barack Obama is not the President America needs right now.  We cannot afford four more years of joblessness, four more years of stagnation, and four more years of weakness on the global stage.”

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  • Martin

    On killing Bin Laden:

    “Bin Laden is dead thanks to our intelligence networks and skilled military. Mr. President, you didn’t build that.”

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Oh, that’s a good one.

      • Jeremy Forbing

        I don’t think that would go over well. If you’re going to hang blame around Obama’s neck for staffing decisions made by State Department security experts for a single overseas embassy out of hundreds, you can’t deny him any credit for military successes her oversaw as Commander-in-Chief. It is kind of one or the other.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I think it would have to be done carefully, in the context of giving him credit for green-lighting the mission.

  • Laserlight

    “Your administration sold weapons to the drug cartels, without making any effort to track them and without notifying the government of Mexico. How many American and Mexican citizens have been killed by those weapons thus far, and how does the government of Mexico feel about your administrations’ actions?”

  • Other

    Enhanced Powell Doctrine wins this hands down.

    1) I will not use military force unless authorized by Congress – it’s in the Constitution.
    2) I will not use military force unless there is a clear military objective.
    3) To save life, I will not use military force unless I use overwhelming military force.
    4) We will have a timeline but we will NOT communicated to the enemy.
    5) A large, well trained and equipped standing military is less likely to be required to go to battle than a small and poorly equipped one.
    6) It is less expensive to win big and get out than prolonged indecisive engagements.

  • Alex Bensky

    Here’s a question I’d like someone to put to the president and since Bob Schieffer isn’t likely to, I wish Romney would:
    “Regarding a matter of important national security, missile defense, you assured the leader of an unfriendly and potentially hostile power that once the election was behind you, you would be ‘more flexible.’ Please tell the American people what it is you’ll be more flexible about and why you cannot tell the American people this during an election campaign.”

  • Sundog

    You have typos in your final sentence — two occurrences of “for more years” when what you meant was “four”.

  • Jim Breiling

    RE: Obamacare. It represents an important step in extending coverage of almost all Americans, but, yes, like everything human, it has shortcomings. Let’s not turn back the clock to all that was bad and unacceptable before Obamacare but go forward with refinements that improve.

    I hope that you agree that ALL Americans should have access to quality illness prevention and treatment care irrespective of their financial resources. The other developed countries do, and in every case, their cost is less, often substantially less than our cost, e.g., Israel: 8% of GNP; US, 17% of GNP. So if we will but learn from others, the affordability issue can be removed. Agreed?
    We can also look within. A recent Institute of Medicine study found that one-third of US health care dollars were for waste. Whack the waste out and we will have paid for expanding quality care to ALL Americans. Agreed?
    So, can we go forward together to rapidly enable ALL Americans to have access to quality illness prevention and treatment, and at a substantially lower total cost?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I agree, and most folks do, that there were some good things in Obamacare. Romney’s been pretty clear that repeal would be accompanied by more targeted changes that affirm/reinstate what is/was good in the law.

  • ClintACK


    From your fingertips to Mitt Romney’s inbox…

  • Uncledip

    Foreign policy, schmolicy.
    Voters who watch American Idol or Dancing With the Stars will have
    but a single question on foreign policy for tonight’s debate:

    Which guy will get me my check on time?

  • M. Report

    Uncledip’s voters should get this answer from Romney:
    Under Obama prices will go up, and the value of the dollar will go down,
    but your government payments will stay the same.
    Under my administration, unemployment will go down, and those who
    cannot find work in the private sector can work on government projects
    which provide a minimal living wage.
    It is the difference between half a loaf and no bread, but is all that can be done
    until the economy has been turned around, which will take at least my first
    four years in office.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      Is this based on Governor Romney’s semi-mystical notion than the mere fact of his election, even before he began enacting policy, would somehow improve the economy and bring capital back to the U.S.? Because I have yet to see any indication that unemployment and prices will go down under Governor Romney while the value of the dollar will go up. Unless, as the Governor would apparently have us believe, the rich are all hiding out with John Galt or whatever, based on the sheer fact that a Democrat is in office.

  • SomethingWicked

    I wish he would say…NOTHING. I would like to see the debate cancled. Romney has nothing to gain in this debate. No matter what happens Obama will be declared the winner and the left leaning “moderator” will do everything in his power to cast Mr Romney in the worst light, guild President Obama through any potentionally embarrising situation, and cut off the debate if it starts to look like he isn’t getting the results he wants. I seriously believe if both Romney and Ryan locked themselves in a room for the next 2 weeks and didn’t allow the MSM to attack/smear them by taking their words out of context, misrepresenting their meaning and latching on to silly verbal missteps (Binders anyone?) that they would win. THE MEDIA IS NOT YOUR FRIEND Mr. Romney. They are scrambling to come up with Anything that might save their candidate, give them nothing!

    • Jeremy Forbing

      If the media were THAT biased, would Romney have ever been declared the winner of the first debate? Not saying there isn’t bias, but it’s not to the point that this extreme tactic of denying voters information at the time when more are paying attention to the election than in all the months before is warranted, is it?

  • A key for 4 might be to argue that Americans have a right to question Obama’s foreign policy. He can be indignant, but we will not be bullied into silence. Romney needs to cut through the rhetoric that makes this a personal issue between himself and Obama and assert our American freedom to criticize the policies of our president.

  • Nate Whilk

    #2 Romney should quote Obama’s own words from 2008: “…if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.”

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Excellent suggestion.

      • Jeremy Forbing

        You can’t attack fresh ideas without suggesting some of your own. And unfortunately, a lack of fresh ideas or substantive detail is what has allowed the Obama campaign– accurately or not– to paint Governor Romney as the second coming of President George W. Bush.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          If Obama were confident in the strength of his argument based on his own record and his own proposals for the next four years, he would not be talking about Big Bird. That is precisely “mak[ing] a big election about small things.”

          Romney’s offered as much detail as any candidate does, and arguably more. His plan for economic renewal runs around 150 pages. The “detail” complaint is a red herring. No one ever goes into detail on the campaign trail, because you lose people, because you commit yourself to many details over which you have no control and which are best fleshed out in the legislative chamber, and because it just opens you up for a thousand and one attacks by every interest group. Romney is articulating broader principles, as Obama did in 2008, but actually giving much more detail than 2008 Obama ever did. And he’s at least giving an agenda for the next four years, which Obama is not.

  • John P. Squibob

    Do you really think that Mitt Romney would get to the third sentence of any of these “quotes” before Bob Schieffer would start interrupting him?

  • Jeremy Forbing

    Some things I wish President Obama would say, off the top of my head:
    1) “While the governor disputes my characterizations of his proposals, the fact is, his failure to provide concrete details on those proposals is why we’re all guessing at how they’d work in the first place. It’s why all these different studies are attempting to give those proposals definition, because Governor Romney simply will not tell us. He won’t tell us how he will pay for his massive tax cut, he won’t tell us what deductions he will remove or what loopholes he’ll close– probably because he knows the middle class will bear the brunt of the burden– he won’t give you specifics on his major foreign policy proposals, he won’t say what is $2 trillion increase in military spending is meant to pay for, and he seems to believe that you don’t need that information to cast your vote. But the fact is, you do. The fact is, most candidates love to talk about themselves, they love to tell you when they’re going to something popular. But if they won’t tell you what they’re going to do, it’s probably because they know you won’t like it. If he tells you the truth about his plans, he knows he can’t succeed, so the governor leaves it to think-tanks and institutes to tell us that yes, he is going to raise taxes on the middle class, thinking he can obfuscate the truth by citing so-called “independent studies” actually conducted by partisan organizations run by folks like Dick Cheney. So when the governor ducks these important questions, when he refuses to give you details about his plans to fix the economy or restore peace to the Middle East, remember that a lie of omission is still a lie, and that when it comes to being President of the United States, the difference between the specific and the vague is the same as the difference between true and false.”

  • Jeremy Forbing

    2) “Let us be clear: The Republican party has held the democratic process hostage to the most extreme elements in their own party, and if elected, my opponent would be beholden to those same extremists. As a purposeful tactic, stated openly by the Senate Majority Leader, Congressional Republicans have stood in the way of plans to create jobs, plans to cut taxes on the middle class, plans to improve economy, in the hopes that if things don’t get better– if they can keep things from getting better– you will vote for their guy instead of me. A vote for Governor Romney is a reward for that partisan stonewalling, a reward to those who chose to play politics with the American economy, and with your future, rather than take any steps to solve the real problems affecting this country. For them, the stakes are increased power, but for everyday people, the stakes are whether or not they can feed their families, whether or not they can find jobs, whether or not they are going to have healthcare and security and good schools for their kids. And if you have any illusions that electing the Republicans’ handpicked candidate is going to make them abandon these cynical, underhanded, irresponsible tactics in governing this country the next four years, just remember that we’ve seen this before, and that a partisan Republican president rubber-stamping the extreme agenda of a Republican congress is how we got into all these messes they refuse to do anything about in the President. As President, one of the things that I’ve learned is that I was elected to represent all Americans, not just the hardcore base of political party. You have to do what’s right for everyone. And changing your core convictions to suit whatever a poll tells you to believe– as Governor Romney has done– is not the same thing.”

  • Jeremy Forbing

    3) “When it comes to foreign policy, and our own troops who serve overseas, the Governor has been a bit disingenous. He talls about caring for veterans but didn’t mention them or our troops current fighting at war at his nominating convention, and has been silent over the years as his allies in congress worked to cut veterans’ benefits. He’s said he isn’t concerned about the very poor despite the continuing national shame of so many of our soldiers’ families having to be on food stamps. His 160 page, 59 point “Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” does not mention veterans or soldiers even once. He and his wife have openly equated their service as Mormon missionaries to our troops’ service in war. He got a deferment to avoid service in Vietnam, but then took to the streets to protest in favor of that war. Today, he seems just as strongly in favor of a War in Iran, claiming it would be in support of Israel, even though the Israelis themselves don’t want it. Our own top commanders say that such a war would be disastrous. He wants to negotiate with other countries, some of which are on the verge on getting behind our foreign policy and standing in opposition, when his own campaign says we should go back to the policy of being willing to waterboard other countries’ citizens. He wants to give our military $2 trillion that they haven’t asked for and that we don’t have to spare. President Eisenhower, a Republican, reminded us to beware of the military-industrial complex, but instead, Governor Romney wants to put the military-industrial complex in charge, and give them power over U.S. defense policy instead of trusting our generals. Maybe that interest is why he still wants to call Russia our greatest threat, instead of terrorism or terrorist states or Al-Qaeda, or why he says we shouldn’t sign nuclear disarmament treaties. Either that, or, as in his many bewildering changes of opinion on withdrawal from Afghanistan, he is simply confused. Neither one of these is something we want to see in the world’s greatest military’s Commander-in-Chief.”

    • Bobby B.

      Off the top of your head?

      • Jeremy Forbing

        Well, after about 20 minutes of typing, I should say. But I started off the top of my head, and I certainly hadn’t thought advice to my chosen candidate through with the depth and care that Tim had in his posts on what he wished his chosen candidate would see. So I wanted to make sure that my offhand, if lengthy, comments weren’t perceived as being in competition with his very polished and well-considered statements. I spend a lot of time thinking about these things, but he does so for a living, and he’s good at it. I often disagree with Tim on politics, but I would never want to debate him…

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Very kind of you, Jeremy. And by the way, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you yet on the reviews. I’ve had two unexpected trips come up, but will get back to you as soon as I can.