Obama likely to use the Bin Laden trump card

2012-10-20 17:40

US President Barack Obama, addressing a fundraising dinner in New York on Thursday night, gave a preview of what Americans can expect when he and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, go head to head tomorrow for their last debate.

“Monday’s debate is a little bit different because the topic is foreign policy,” he told the crowd at the annual event for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

“Spoiler alert: We got Bin Laden,” he added.

The president may have been joking, as is part of the dinner’s tradition of hosting presidential candidates who playfully trade punches with each other, but his remark is a good indication that Obama may be reaching for this trump card more than once in Monday’s debate.

The president’s improved performance at Tuesday’s debate meant he has come back strongly as the perceived winner in the eyes of the public, but his showing at the polls doesn’t mean he can rest any easier.

Pundits agree the race to the White House remains tight and is still either man’s to win.

“President Obama is back in the game with a strong debate performance. But Romney’s was strong too,” said Karlyn Bowman, from think-tank American Enterprise Institute.

“We have now, as we have had for some time, a close race.”

Romney’s solid footing at the first debate, coupled with Obama’s seemingly distanced, unengaged interaction, saw the Republican make up some of the loss he suffered at the polls for his infamous comment about “the 47%” and a not-so-stellar showing at the Republican National Convention.

Obama was able to claw back some of those gains after his re-energised performance at Tuesday’s town hall setting, but post-debate snap polls conducted by CBS found that uncommitted voters thought Romney beat the president on the economy by 65% to 34%.

The economy and jobs top the list of important issues for Americans amid a sluggish recovery and high jobless rates.

Still, Obama’s handling of the Benghazi question, which he and Romney tousled over, became a hallmark of the second debate.

The issue is still a sensitive one which, having been politicised already, many say is certainly set to come back into the spotlight again during the third debate.

Questions remain about the attack in Libya, in which four Americans, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, and how the Obama administration dealt with the incident – all of which plays into the greater issue of foreign policy and the success against al-Qaeda that came from the killing of Bin Laden.

Nevertheless, a number of Democrats, who watched the debate in New York’s Harlem, said they felt energised by Obama’s performance in the second debate and wanted to see him continue the momentum.

Although the second debate levelled the playing field somewhat, Romney still has a lead in the race by a small margin of 0.4, according to Real Clear Politics’ poll average, and continues to make gains in various polls.

That means the two candidates will have to make the most of their final verbal sparring match and continue to battle it out right up until election day.

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