Following the final debate between Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman were interviewed for a Finger Lakes Times article focused on the local reaction.
“I’m not even sure why they decided to do a whole foreign policy debate because, frankly, Americans don’t care very much about foreign policy,” Deutchman said. “It’s not a game-changer. I’ve never heard a person saying, ‘I’m voting for so-and-so because of their foreign policy.’ “
The article notes both Deutchman and Lucas, however, felt the President won this last round before the election.
A member of the faculty since 2000, Lucas holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his M.A. and Ph.D. from State University at Binghamton.
Deutchman, a member of the HWS faculty since 1987, holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics.
The full article follows.
The Finger Lakes Times
The final go-around
Locals say domestic issues, not foreign policy, will decide race
Jim Miller • October 23, 2012
Whoever came out ahead in last night’s presidential debate on foreign policy probably put in a lot of work for a relatively small electoral reward.
That was the consensus among several local debate watchers who believe that domestic issues, far more than foreign policy, will determine the winner in November.
“I’m not even sure why they decided to do a whole foreign policy debate because, frankly, Americans don’t care very much about foreign policy,” said Iva Deutchman, a political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. “It’s not a game-changer. I’ve never heard a person saying, ‘I’m voting for so-and-so because of their foreign policy.’ “
That may explain why both candidates repeatedly pivoted back to domestic issues and rehashed points from the prior debates. Ontario County Republican Chairman Doug Finch also cited domestic issues when asked for his take on the debate.
“I think that this debate, like the others, stressed the importance of the American economy and the need to rebuild our American economy,” he said. “It affects so many areas, including foreign policy.”
When they did directly address international issues, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tried to portray Barack Obama as a president who has presided over a decline in American prestige. Obama tried to portray Romney as a foreign policy naïf.
Finch was disappointed when Obama spent time criticizing Romney rather than laying out his own agenda. However, he thought both candidates did well overall. “I think they both presented a very presidential image,” he said. “I think Gov. Romney certainly laid forth some plans, some very concrete plans.”
Deutchman, however, gave the debate advantage to Obama. So did her colleague DeWayne Lucas and Wayne County Democratic Chair Ed O’Shea. “I think I would say advantage Obama, but not tidal wave Obama,” O’Shea said.
He said that’s partly because Obama came into the debate with a major advantage: Four years of foreign policy experience.
“Obama does have the foreign policy credentials, and in a sense Mitt Romney is sort of playing catch-up,” O’Shea said. “Foreign policy has always been one of his strengths, and he doesn’t have a lot of apologies to make.”
Deutchman made the same point. She said she also noticed Romney agreeing with Obama on many issues, despite the differences he has previously expressed.
That might help Obama among voters who have been paying close attention since the primaries, Lewis said. “What they saw was a lot of changes in Romney’s position, so there’s those kind of concerns,” he said.
While both candidates seemed like reasonable leaders and reasonable commanders- in-chief, Romney’s pivots might make some voters question whether he will follow through on what he says, Lewis added.
But to Finch, the economy will trump every other issue. “You have President Obama, who is interested in increasing exports as a way to create jobs and working with the world economy,” he said. “On the other hand, you have Gov. Romney, whose immediate priority is very clear as to creating jobs right here in America.”