Tuesday, October 23, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Huge election is under way

The debates are over and early voting has started in Arkansas. Long lines are reported at some area polling places, but not everywhere. You might call ahead for best times to vote.

We often call our sources where we vote early to see how long the lines are. “It’s not too bad right now,” we’re often told, so we heed the advice and head down to the polling station.

Your neighbors may have already voted, and we’ll probably vote today. Depending on where you live, there are plenty of local contests of interest, including races for the state legislature, city council and several offices in Lonoke County, from clerk to sheriff to treasurer.

The presidential race is a foregone conclusion as Arkansas once again aligns itself with the rest of Dixie, which will overwhelmingly support Mitt Romney. But it’s neck and neck in much of the country, especially in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada, which could decide the outcome.

Romney was not at his best Monday night during the debate on foreign policy. He looked like he wanted to change the subject: Foreign policy is not his strong suit. The attack on Benghazi was the first question the estimable Bob Schieffer asked him, but Romney punted.

He could have scored a few extra points there, but he didn’t have it in him to slam President Obama: The two saluted the four Americans who had died defending our nation’s values, and then the candidates moved on.

Apart from criticizing the president for supposedly apologizing for America on his trips abroad, Romney said he agreed with Obama on foreign policy most of the time, especially on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, which was a new position for him. But he did hammer away on the need to boost defense spending and building more ships for the Navy. Not much to gain the upper hand.

Most viewers thought Obama won the debate handily, and it appears he may have gained a couple of points in the polls from the last two debates after his first disastrous debate with Romney.

The debate took place during a National League playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants and an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. So a TV screen and a computer made it possible to watch at least two of the big events and switch to the football game between innings. (San Francisco and the Bears won if you’re keeping score.)

Don’t forget to vote. It will be good for you.