Small Businesses and the Final Presidential Debate


The debates are over.

Although the final Presidential debate of the 2012 election season centered on foreign policy, let's hope not too many small business owners tuned out. In the end, this election remains about them.  

Foreign policy. Libya. Syria. Iran. Afghanistan. The role of the United States military. Where do SMBs fall in?

Plain and simple; foreign affairs impact small businesses at home. While this may not always be obvious, the point was driven home by both President Obama and Mitt Romney again and again.

The term “small business” came up only nine times during the third and final Presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Comparatively, the term came up 23 times during the first Presidential debate and the 21 during the second debate. While the economy is most definitely the central issue of this election, which has been confirmed by voters again and again, the safety and security of the country remains in the back of many American minds. In today's economy, however, business done overseas is becoming more and more relevant to the business being done on our own shores. The two issues aren't so far apart.

Mitt Romney managed to bring forth his five-point economic plan during the previous debates, and naturally managed to bring it to forefront during the finale. Small businesses represent the fifth and final point of the aforementioned plan.

“We've got to champion small business,” Romney said. “Small business is where jobs come from. Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. New business formation is down to the lowest level in 30 years under this administration. I want to bring it back and get back good jobs and rising take-home pay.”

President Obama was ready to return Romney's criticisms.

“First of all,” Obama began. “Governor Romney talks about small businesses. But, Governor, when you were in Massachusetts, small businesses development ranked about 48th, I think out of 50 states in Massachusetts, because the policies that you are promoting actually don't help small businesses.”

While the debate did indeed cover just about every foreign policy topic under the sun, the conversation often drifted back to domestic topics such as the economy and education.

Obama emphasized this point, stating that “we've got to make sure that our economy is strong at home so that we can project military power overseas.”

Romney seemed to concur, stating himself that “it's so critical, that we make America once again the most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs, to grow the economy.

Neither candidate managed to really get into the weeds of their economic plans during the debate, nor were they allowed to stray too far off from the foreign policy theme. Moderator Bob Schieffer remained in control and kept order, preventing the interruptions and zingers that seemed to dominate the prior debate.

Pundits and voters alike seem to agree that Barack Obama was the loser in the first debate, which in fact proved to be the catalyst for Mitt Romney's recent rise in the polls. The second debate was seen as a moment of redemption for Obama, who managed to wake up and take Romney to task on a number of issue, proving that the President was not going to lay down to his Republican challenger. This begs the question; who came out on top in the final round?

The media at large will most likely spin this debate as a tie. A draw. Really, though, such a judgment is certainly fair. Neither Obama nor Romney delivered a knockout punch during their final exchange. Meanwhile, both candidates did exactly what they needed to do. Obama succeeded in the sense that he showed up, defended his record as it pertains to foreign policy and came out to attack Romney when the opportunity presented itself. Likewise, Romney did what he needed to do; hold his ground. While foreign policy is not Romney's strongest suit, especially as he and his campaign want to center the election on the economy, the Republican contender managed to stand toe-to-toe with the President.

Both Obama and Romney met the expectations of their respective parties; however, neither did much to exceed such expectations. They both remain seemingly dead even in the national polls, meaning once again that the horse-race narrative that's been pushed in recent weeks is indeed a reality. This will be a close election. Very, very close. Who will tip the scale? Undecided voters? Small business voters?

Considering this is the last head-to-head meeting between Obama and Romney, both will be hoping that they've made their cases to the American people clear.

“I will fight for your families and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to be the greatest nation on earth,” Obama said to the camera, concluding his closing statement for the debate.

“We need strong leadership,” Romney urged in his own closing statement. “I'd like to be that leader with your support. I'll work with you. I'll lead you in an open and honest way, and I ask for your vote. I'd like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation and to make sure that we all together remain America as the hope of the earth”

Small business owners may ultimately decide this election. While this debate was indeed about foreign policy, there's plenty that SMBs can away take from the discussion.

Where do you stand?

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at

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