I think the president won this debate–certainly as a matter of momentum and beating expectations, but in an absolute sense as well. Neither side scored anything close to a knockout, but the president got the best of this debate and restored good momentum for his campaign. When people chose a president, they are definitely not trying to choose the smartest policy expert. If they were, Al Gore would be president now. Yet everyone knows Gore lost his debates. People want a president who looks at issues the way they do, and who shares their larger outlook on life. They want to trust their president’s basic values, sensibility, and personal solidity. They are interested in policy, but not in the details of policy. As four years ago, I think Bush has shown that he is a forceful, confident, and solid person with values and policy instincts close to the public’s heart. That is what he needed to do. Especially on foreign policy, the president is closer to the public. His strong and confident defense of his war policies left Kerry looking too much like a carper. The president is a commander, and tonight he showed that he was in charge of himself and his administration. He acted like a leader. Having done so, he wins.