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Partisans Split Over Favorite Debate Moderators Partisans Split Over Favorite Debate Moderators

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POLITICAL INSIDERS POLL

Partisans Split Over Favorite Debate Moderators

Plus: Insiders weigh in on Obama administration's response to Benghazi attack.

How damaging has the administration’s response to the terrorist attack in Libya been to President Obama?

DEMOCRATS (106 VOTES)

Very damaging: 1%
Damaging: 35%
Not damaging: 64%

 

Very damaging

“Until the attack, foreign policy had been an undisputed high mark for the administration, yet the Benghazi incident has called this into question—all because of a mangled response. And this is the guy who got bin Laden.”

Damaging

 

“It is a distraction and undermines the president’s foreign-policy credentials.”

“Has put Obama on the defensive—raises issues of competency on a core strength (national security). And, most importantly, goes at trust, which is ultimately at the heart of this election.”

“Arguably the president’s greatest strength, in terms of issues, is foreign policy. Unfortunately for him, Americans don’t have enough interest to care about more than one foreign-policy issue right now, and that issue is Libya.”

“Democrats have no room for error on foreign policy.”

 

“It was damaging, but not as damaging as Mitt Romney walking into a nationally televised mistake in his attack on the president for the Libyan response.”

Not damaging

“Not good, but not damaging. Might seem to become more salient with the last debate on foreign policy, but the economy will still rule in voters’ decision.”

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“At the end of Mitt Romney’s dusty alley of thin allegations stood the man who must live with his decisions and all their complexity. Game over, Mr. Technocrat—you are out of your league.”

“Americans know who killed bin Laden. This election is about the economy.”

“The president’s strong [debate] response turned this into a question of leadership, which he won. Showed strength and made Romney look too political.”

“Most undecided voters do not understand the back and forth and only want to look forward.”

 

How damaging has the administration’s response to the terrorist attack in Libya been to President Obama?

REPUBLICANS (98 VOTES)

Very damaging: 29%
Damaging: 67%
Not damaging: 4%

Very damaging

“The October Surprise is how inept the Obama administration has been in handling the Benghazi terrorist attack. Could well doom his reelection.”

“Looks like incompetence or failure to tell the truth.”

“Some Obama political operative believed the murder of our ambassador was just another event requiring media manipulation.”

“Even though the president won the exchange in Tuesday night’s debate, the bottom-line facts are extremely damaging: The Obama administration simply dropped the ball on security, and that exposed a U.S. ambassador to a lethal terrorist attack, which they aggressively tried to deny until the facts closed in on them. Regardless of what happens in the election, that is a terrible indictment of this president that will hang over his tenure.”

“It makes the independent voters feel very unsure of President Obama’s ability to keep us safe. That unsettling feeling is present, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.”

Damaging

“The president’s political luck when it comes to the Mideast may be running out.”

“Despite Candy Crowley’s apologia, the fact remains that they didn’t know what happened. The question becomes: What didn’t they know, and why didn’t they know it?”

“He wasn’t there for the 3 a.m. call? Or he didn’t wake up.”

“Could have been worse if the Romney campaign had not hurt their ability to highlight the mess with their own inept initial attacks.”

“Foreign policy is just not a dominant issue in this election.”

“It would be very damaging, except that Gov. Romney keeps making missteps on the issue.”

“As usual, it’s not the event itself—it’s the cover-up.”

“Throwing Hillary under the bus was pretty craven. And obvious.”

“Bin Laden gives the president a good amount of Teflon on terrorism issues, but its usefulness is being stretched here.”

 

Who has been the best moderator so far in the debates?

DEMOCRATS (104 VOTES)

Jim Lehrer: 3%
Martha Raddatz: 56%
Candy Crowley: 41%

Martha Raddatz

“Crowley had to manage bigger fish, but Raddatz was a real referee. She had a command of the issues and held her own.”

This article appears in the October 20, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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