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This evening’s presidential debate, the second between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, featured some very sharp disagreements over facts that almost no viewers can judge (such as the licenses issued for drilling in federal lands) and agreement on the topics where viewers have strong opinions (such as capitalism).

Perhaps this debate will move those few undecided voters in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, but it leaves the rest of us judging the debate according to which candidate we’d rather have as a dinner companion. Put differently, Romney missed an opportunity by not discussing larger issues but letting himself get mired in details.

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Obama got away with saying that he had characterized the attack on the Benghazi consulate as a terrorist incident because the moderator confirmed his point; in fact he misrepresented the facts when he said “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that … this was an act of terror.”

Reince Priebus, the Republican party chairman, instantly seized on this inaccuracy and accused Obama of lying and others are sure to follow suit. This inaccuracy will likely haunt Obama over the next three weeks and turn the Libyan fiasco into an even bigger problem for his reelection campaign. That will matter more than who “won” the debate. (October 16, 2012)

Republished from DanielPipes.org and cross-posted from History News Network.

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Daniel Pipes is a world-renowned Middle East and Islam expert. He is President of the Middle East Forum. His articles appear in many newspapers. He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. He is a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace and other institutions. His website is DanielPipes.org.
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