With his performance in the first debate It looked like Mitt Romney might well have been on his way to achieving something that is very difficult to do, and that is to defeat a sitting president.
Momentum was on his side, and It was starting to look like Romney might actually pull off the improbable. In the primary he beat back all the critics from his own party that never really took to him, and in the general election, he beat back the power of incumbency.
However, Romney's performance in the third and final debate was so bad, that even though this race remains extremely close, Romney may have actually sealed President Obama's re-election.
Watching the debate on foreign policy, one would think it was Romney who was sitting on a 10 point lead. Carrying out all the debate prep's for a candidate that is ahead: do no harm, no gaffes, play it safe, but in doing that, Romney at times sounded like a cheerleader for Obama's foreign policies -- almost like he was Obama's secretary of state and not Hillary Clinton.
It begs the question, agreeing with some of the president's foreign policy victories, how is that going to play in battleground states like Ohio? If you agree with some of the policies, what's the argument to replace the guy that put them in place? Thankfully for Gov. Romney, Americans in polls show the economy and jobs are the tops issues, and not foreign policy, but President Obama clearly won the third and final debate, and did it in a decisive manner.
It was not a good night for Mr. Romney. Not only was Romney sweating on stage, (a major no-no, reminiscent of the days of Richard Nixon) Romney came off as almost a light-weight on foreign policy.
Yes, in debate number one, Romney benefited from sharing the stage with the president, but in the third and final debate, Romney's magic touch was gone. For 90 minutes, Romney in his appeal back to the middle for moderates could be perceived as giving critics plenty of fodder to work with, and opening the door as someone who stands for nothing. Someone who is willing to do anything, say anything to be elected with no core convictions. In other words, bringing back all the original raps on the Republican nominee.
In the end, Gov. Romney may have done much more harm to his campaign than good. Sure, he had a few good attacks. Repeatedly throughout the night, the president said Romney was wrong, but during one attack, Romney responded "attacking me is no agenda," and another line that may connect with the electorate: "We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran."
Romney also repeated his familiar campaign line that four years of Obama's leadership has weakened America's role in the world, no matter how many terrorists are eliminated.
"We can't kill our way out of this mess," said Romney. "We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is certainly not on the run."
Despite the ongoing controversy in Benghazi where U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens was killed, foreign policy was always going to be a major asset for this president and it showed. Obama looked presidential, with a strong command of the issues, while Mr. Romney seems out of his element.
Forget the marginal boost in the polls that at times can occur post-debate, with his debate performance Monday night, Romney may have re-elected Obama on Monday night.