Two debates took place in Boca Raton on Monday night, one embedded inside the other. Given that the candidates and moderator had only ninety minutes to work with, the intrusion of domestic issues couldn’t have helped but take away from the foreign-policy discussion. That is a cause for real regret—the world they talked about didn’t extend much beyond the Middle East and China anyway. But taken on its own terms, the second, shadow debate was not a bad one. It was surprisingly detailed, and the exchanges were in some ways more direct than the ones on foreign policy and even more so than previous ones on domestic issues. Despite the assumption that any mention of the economy would be bad for the President, it was also a fight Obama largely controlled. He won a solid victory on foreign policy in large part because he was more coherent than Romney in talking about things that had nothing to do with foreign policy.
Amy Davidson on the two debates in Boca Raton last Monday night: http://nyr.kr/XeYwAq
Read Dexter Filkins on Romney’s foreign policy and Evan Osnos on the candidates’ comments about China, and see our full coverage of the Presidential debates.
Photograph by Nikki Kahn/Washington Post/Getty.