President Obama has a surefire winner in any debate with GOP presidential foe Mitt Romney. And that's his record. Romney stood it on its head and belittled it in their first debate. Obama given the imposed limitations of the debate couldn't hammer back with it. But he can and he must. Debates are as much about style points as substance. But substance with style points will win every time. And this is where Obama can always beat Romney.
It starts with his record that Romney has run against. It's an astoundingly productive, and perfectly defensible record that keeps the focus on these crucial make-or-break election issues, the economy and health care, and then, his handling of foreign policy. Obama does not need to say and keep saying that he took over a mess from George W. Bush and has had to fight to clean that up for three years. That's a given, but it will be parried. Instead, Obama can say and keep saying that the economy despite the towering problems has shown clear signs of rebound, with unemployment down, with most economic indicators indicating positive growth, and the administration has proposed measures to reduce the deficit without putting at mortal risk Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Obama does not have to keep trying to ward off the attack on his Affordable Care Act as it raises health care costs and that vouchers is a prescription for health care disaster. That's a given that every credible health care study has confirmed. He can say and keep saying that his plan has provided coverage for millions that wouldn't have a prayer of getting affordable or any kind of health care coverage. That alone would raise costs by tens of billions for the middle class who would have to foot the tax bill for them through jam packed emergency care rooms in public hospitals.
Obama does not have to be defensive about military cuts, his relations with Russia and the European allies, and most importantly his outreach to the Muslim world. He can say and keep saying that it has brought peace, stability and healthy relations with European allies and a cooperative relation with the Russians. He can say and keep saying that he has kept the line of dialogue open between the Palestinians and Israelis, and there is absolutely no proof that he's done this at the expense of weakening U.S. and Israeli relations. He can say and keep saying that his outreach to the Muslim world is the best guarantee of America's defense and security. He can say and keep saying that countless defense experts and those in the defense establishment have been absolutely unequivocal that the phased in military reductions he in tandem with the Defense Department have projected over the next decade will not weaken one whit America's strength and ability to respond to a crisis.
He can say and keep saying these facts with short, punchy lines, and respond aggressively to Romney's come back with equally quick and punchy rebuttal lines. He can stand Romney's non-presidential record on its head. Romney did not inherit two flawed and costly wars and that he ended one and is the process of winding the other one down. Obama did. He can say and keep saying that the GOP, Romney's GOP's, had not put every obstacle humanly possible in my way I could have done even more to create jobs, reduce the deficit, and add even more luster to America's foreign policy image if not for Romney. He can say and keep saying that Romney has not had to make one decision about the budget, taxes, jobs, the military and defense, and foreign policy. Finally, he can say and keep saying these are things that he has actually done, and not what someone who has never served a minute in the Oval Office has the luxury of making inflated promises to do.
Debates are just that -- debates. They are verbal warfare, and wars are not won by diplomacy and civility. They are won by the side with the most firepower and the right means to deploy it. Obama's record is his firepower -- a firepower that Romney can never match. The right deployment of it is to take it to Romney, hard, fast, and unapologetically.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.