9:22 - President Obama says that every time Mitt Romney has taken a position on foreign policy, he's been wrong. Then he praises Romney for supporting Obama's war in Libya.
9:38 - Obama criticizes Romney for cutting education spending as Governor of Massachusetts. I thought this was supposed to be a foreign policy debate. Also, I hate the debate tactic of pointing out that someone has cut spending. That's not very informative, and it's not inherently bad to cut spending on something important. How efficiently were those dollars spent?
9:41 - Romney: "Our Air Force is older and smaller than it's been since 1947." Well, of course it's older than it's ever been before! Everything is always older than ever before.
9:44 - Obama to Romney: "Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. . . . It's not a game of counting battleships." Good point, but Obama made the same fallacy on education spending. [Update: Actually, the point about bayonets wasn't so great.]
9:46 - Obama says our sanctions against Iran are "crippling its economy." He adds: "Their economy is in shambles." Bragging about destroying a whole nation's economy seems rather callous.
9:59 - Romney has said the word "tumult" several times tonight.
10:01 - Romney describes Obama's foreign policy with words like "tumult," "turmoil," "tension." Obama says Romney has been "all over the map," whereas Obama's decisions aren't "poll-tested." If this debate has any purpose, it's for the candidates to seem presidential while repeating these kinds of buzzwords to frame the other side. I find it hard to believe that many voters are going to make their decision based on any substantive differences on foreign policy the candidates are airing tonight.
10:04 - Obama points out that many people in his administration, including his own vice president, were opposed to his decision to kill Osama bin Laden.
10:08 - Obama is beating Romney in the contest to mention as many regular citizens as possible.
10:11 - Romney is asked what he thinks about Obama's drone war. We don't get much in the way of details about what the drone war is actually doing, either from the moderator's question or Romney's answer: "I support that entirely." When it's Obama's turn to respond, he doesn't even mention his drone attacks, but talks vaguely about feel-good concepts like government reform in nations we're "engaging with," women's rights, etc.
10:15 - A Facebook friend says the moderator, Bob Schieffer, referred to "Obama bin Laden," but I didn't notice it.
10:19 - Romney accuses China of "artificially holding down the value of their currency." In other words, China is making our dollar stronger, and Romney would like our dollar to be weaker.
10:24 - Romney criticizes the US policy of "writing checks" to bail out the car industry — which, he points out, started with President Bush.
10:25 - Romney says he's in favor of public investing in "basic research," not "investing in companies." Actually, that's a surprisingly euphemistic way for him to refer to Obama's policy of transferring taxpayers' money to corporations.
10:28 - Romney finally catches up with his references to ordinary people in swing states. This is now the second debate where Appleton, Wisconsin (population 78,000) has been mentioned.
10:35 - The debates are over. Do you think the campaigns made an agreement that the candidates would have the exact same interaction at the beginning and end of each debate? They always pat each other on the side of the arm while laughing, as if one of them had said something funny in the previous split-second.
My mom, Ann Althouse, sums up the debate:
By adopting a strategy of only modestly challenging Obama and mostly seeming the same as Obama on foreign policy, Romney neutralized foreign policy as an issue and kept the election focus on the economy. He even refocused the discussion on the economy whenever he could over the course of the evening. The election is about the economy, and nothing either candidate said tonight will change that. The only way Obama really could have won is if Romney had tumbled into some kind of exploitable gaffe. That didn't happen.