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Romney vs. Obama: Long Island Sequel

Wow. For a second there, I thought we might need a boxing ref.

For me, the most memorable exchange of last night's debate came when the candidates finally reached the topic of the Libyan consulate attack. The subject was bound to come up. After Benghazi, who knew what... and when? Many pundits, even MSNBC's Chuck Todd, thought the topic might be Romney's chance to seal the entire election. Maybe so, but it doesn't matter, since Romney stumbled and Candy Crowley cut off the conversation. Everything after the Libya topic was a blur to me... and I think the two candidates were in a daze, too.

No matter which side of the political aisle you're on, can we all agree that the topic needed more time? Were we really better served hearing the two men talk about "biggest mis-perceptions?"

And so, Monday night now looms large... or does it? Back to the podiums. Back to an aging newsman moderator, this time in the form of CBS's Bob Schieffer. But will it be back to that discussion about the death of Ambassador Stevens? The announced focus of the third debate is Foreign Policy. Libya will be a topic, for sure, but what I'd really love to see is Schieffer come out and say, "Gentlemen, let's finish that conversation you were having about 9-11-12 the other night. Take all the time you need... GO."

Brad Krantz pointed out on CMN today that Monday night's debate may not be the winner-take-all match we all would like to make it. Foreign Policy is not a sexy topic, despite its prominence and relevance in the headlines. Younger voters, especially, are less likely to hang around for a chat about overseas strategy. Monday Night Football will compete for viewers. There could even be a Game 7 of the NLCS.

We keep coming back to the elusive undecided voter. The so-called "Walmart Mom" is described as largely unconcerned with any subject outside of what puts food on the table and gets her family paycheck to paycheck. If she watches a debate this year, it most likely happened last night.

And so, Obama bounced back. Romney turned in a respectable effort, too, but fell short of his game-changing Denver performance. The final chapter of this 2012 Debate Trilogy will write itself Monday night in Boca Raton, Florida. Keeping with the theme of boxing: let's hope this sequel is more Rocky II than Rocky V, if you know what I mean.



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