Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Can we trace Romney's loss to a single moment?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 07, 2012

Last night several analysts claimed that Mitt Romney’s fate was sealed when Chris Christie put his arm around President Obama. The embattled president was suddenly seen as a non-partisan leader, the pundits explained, and Romney’s appeal for bipartisan support lost traction.

Personally I think the issue was settled much earlier. But I too can point to a specific moment.

In the 3rd televised debate, moderator Bob Schieffer opened with a question about Benghazi, addressed to Romney. It was a hot topic and the president was vulnerable. But Romney deliberately downplayed his response, preferring not to rouse a controversy that could backfire.

That was a fatal strategic mistake. When you’re fighting the champ, you can’t count on a split decision from the judges. You’ve got to go for the knockout.

(In retrospect it seems odd that during the last days of the campaign, conservatives were complaining that the mainstream media had ignored Benghazi, yet boosting the GOP challenger—who had signaled that ignoring Benghazi was the right thing to do.)

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 12, 2012 5:41 PM ET USA

    I keep reminding myself, after a journey into the land of What If, that we have done all we could do, and God has yet to weigh in on what happens to this country. We should be fasting, praying, making an ongoing effort at conversion, and leading lives as full of charity as we can. This is not over.

  • Posted by: oakes.spalding7384 - Nov. 09, 2012 12:26 AM ET USA

    Benghazi was and is an awful scandal. But it never gained traction as a negative against Obama. It even backfired on Romney in the second debate (as unfair and unjust as it was). So Romney's reluctance to push it was not obviously unwise. I have a feeling that if he had won, we would be hailing his strategy of looking "Presidential" by not bringing it up as brilliant. Romney was as effective a candidate as we could have hoped for. That even HE lost, says much about the country.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Nov. 07, 2012 11:41 AM ET USA

    Romney was the "safest" most bland of all the Republicans who could have had a shot at the White House; therefore he was doomed from the get go. What the GOP needs is someone who fires up the right the same way Obama fires up the left, a real maverick who shoots from the hip and calls a spade a spade. The GOP will never win with safe bland predictable men like Mitt Romney. This election was sealed the moment Mitt was given the nomination in my opinion.