Boca Breakdown

8:10 a.m. E.T.

From “Morning Joe,” my analysis of Monday’s debate and its potential impact on the final two weeks.

Watch the video above.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You didn’t realize how uncomfortable Mitt Romney was with foreign policy until he started talking about domestic policy and he looked so confident. He looked like the Mitt Romney of Denver. And then they went back to foreign policy and there was a little sweat. There were nerves. His voice wasn’t in command. Far different than when he was talking domestic policy.

MARK HALPERIN: If he hadn’t righted himself after the first couple of answers, it would have been a disastrous debate for him. I don’t think there’s any doubt the President won in the room. He was stronger on almost every topic on foreign policy. He was stronger. And, I think, his knowledge, not only of his own record and ability to talk about it fluidly, but of Mitt Romney’s record was really impressive. He knows a lot about what Mitt Romney said in the past and I don’t think there’s any doubt that Mitt Romney, in terms of inconsistency on foreign policy, in terms of not having a policy shop on foreign policy, anything like what a normal presidential candidate has, I think that was all on display.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: By the way, let me stop you right there. Not having a policy shop, Mitt Romney has decided from the very beginning that he was going to be his own guy on foreign policy. That he was going to avoid getting the giants in foreign policy. There have been a lot of concerns. Last night it showed. He didn’t have the foreign policy giants around him and he’s the guy that made that decision and I think he paid for that last night.

MARK HALPERIN: You saw it last night and you also saw — and the President was very good at teasing this out — a history of statements on a range of important issues where his criticisms of the President were kind of hollow and shallow and I think the President made him pay a price in the room. But I still believe, as I wrote and said last night, what was Mitt Romney’s goal in this debate? It was to come out and get people saying he’s acceptable. And if you want a change in direction, particularly on the economy, are you fine with Mitt Romney sitting in the Oval Office during an international crisis? I think, for a lot of voters, he came across, after those first few minutes, as acceptable.

MARK HALPERIN: He left the bat on the shoulder because he whiffed last time. After he messed it up in the second debate, I predicted that [Libya] would not be, he would not engage on [Libya] because he missed his chance. He could not go back without calling attention to his failure.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But last night, this is what Mitt Romney had to do. Mitt Romney had to prove that he was not crazy. You know, Gerald Ford in 1976 had said, “Governor Reagan won’t get us into war. President Reagan will.” His own party knocked him as this crazy sort-of cowboy. The fascist gun of the west, a lot of people would say. Reagan diffused that. Same thing with Mitt Romney last night. Was he inconsistent? Yes, he was inconsistent. But for swing voters watching last night that’s the message he had to deliver.

MARK HALPERIN: That’s why I think, although, again, the President clearly won on points in the room, if there’s an impact on the race it seems to me Mitt Romney really did achieve that, again, not just last night. But, over the three debates, I think he came across as someone who a lot of people could see as President and then move to the question of, do we want four more years of the President’s economic policies or do we want to try something new? That’s where Governor Romney wants the argument. If he had made a big mistake last night, he’d be dealing with that for the last two weeks. I don’t think there’s anything that happened last night, as exposed as he was on points and on the merits by the President, I don’t think there’s anything that happened last night that he’s going to have to deal with for the next two weeks.

Related Topics: Barack Obama, Joe Scarborough, Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, Morning Joe, MSNBC, 2012 Elections, Analysis, Democratic Party, Foreign Policy, Republican Party, The Page, Video

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