Romney’s debate goal: To prove he could be Commander in Chief

Holly Bailey
October 23, 2012

BOCA RATON, Fla.—To hear the Romney campaign tell it, Mitt Romney entered Monday's final presidential debate knowing he probably wouldn't score many points against President Barack Obama on foreign policy.

Instead, aides said the Republican presidential nominee's main goal was to simply communicate a "steadiness" on the issues and prove to voters he is capable of being commander in chief. And as they flooded the spin room minutes before the debate officially concluded, the Romney aides argued their boss did just that.

"One person seemed very presidential, knowledgeable, and the other seemed to be confusing political points and what really matters on big issues," Stuart Stevens, Romney's top strategist, said.

Romney's goal was to "talk to people about what he would do as president in a straightforward clear way, and from the very beginning he did," Stevens said. "He addressed the people, and I think you could imagine Gov. Romney as President Romney tonight."

Stevens and other Romney aides argued again and again that voters saw in the Republican nominee someone they could "trust," who was "knowledgeable," and had "good judgment."

"He didn't claim to have the answers for every problem in the world, but acknowledged their problems and their gravity," Stevens said.

Still, the Romney campaign acknowledged the debate likely didn't change much in terms of how voters viewed the candidates or the main arguments heading into the final two weeks of the campaign.

As Romney heads to Nevada and Colorado Tuesday as part of a swing through the battleground states this week, he is expected to stick with his theme of criticizing Obama for not offering a "vision" for what he would do with a second term in office.

"Attacking me is not talking about an agenda," Romney argued Monday night—a line that he is likely to use again in the final two weeks of the campaign.