The collected wisdom of the Village, as it is, after the jump.
Taegan Goddard starts us off:
As the debate went on, Romney tried many times to move the international affairs discussion back to the economy where he was more comfortable. It was as if he had only 30 minutes of foreign policy talking points for a 90 minute debate. As a result he seemed to string together random thoughts which often made him sound incoherent.
Obama won the debate hands down.
Andrew Sullivan seems to have stopped panicking.
For Romney, he made no massive mistakes. No Gerald Ford moments. And since the momentum of this race is now his, if now faltering a little, a defeat on points on foreign policy will be an acceptable result. But this was Obama's debate; and he reminded me again of how extraordinarily lucky this country has been to have had him at the helm in this new millennium.
He's flawed; he's made mistakes; but who hasn't? If this man, in these times, with this record, against this opposition, does not deserve re-election, then I am simply at a loss for words. I have to believe the American people will see that in time.
Chris Cillizza's tab at the Washington Post:
Obama controlled the third presidential debate in a way not all that dissimilar from the way Romney controlled the first one. Obama clearly came loaded for bear, attacking Romney from the jump for a lack of clarity when it came to his vision (or lack thereof) on foreign policy. If you are looking for moments — and remember that the media coverage over the next few days will focus on just that — Obama had two with his line about “the 1980s calling” in regards to Romney’s foreign policy and his reference to “horses and bayonets” to call into question his rival’s understanding of the modern military. It’s possible that Obama came off too hot/not presidential in some of his attacks but Democrats will take a little too much heat following Obama’s cold-as-ice performance in the first debate. Obama came across as the more confident and commanding presence — by a lot.
The NY Times editorial board was outright devastating to Romney.
Mr. Romney tried to set himself apart from Mr. Obama on Iran, but ended up sounding particularly incoherent. At one point he said he would indict President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on genocide charges. He gave no clue how he would do that; like many of his comments, it was merely a sound bite.
But ABC News's Rick Klein argued the night belonged to Romney for just showing up.
There’s no going back, though, to a point where a single debate could change the trajectory of a campaign. Nothing happened tonight to change the race’s direction — and Romney walks away strong after playing on Obama’s turf, competing for his job.
CBS News' Lucy Madison was a bit more circumspect.
In the 90-minute debate at Florida's Lynn University, Mr. Obama was swift to cast Romney as inexperienced and incoherent on foreign policy, lambasting his ideas as "wrong and reckless" within minutes of the debate's kick-off, and taking every possible opportunity to stress the areas in which Romney "agrees" with his policies.
Combating criticism over his actions in Iran, Syria, and across the Middle East, Mr. Obama painted a stark contrast between the "strong, steady leadership" he said he offered, versus what he cast as Romney's "wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map."
Chuck Todd's crew at NBC News thought Romney was playing "prevent defense".
Three weeks ago in the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney was the one who was aggressive, while President Obama seemed to be playing it safe -- and, as it turned out, too safe. Last night here in the final debate before Election Day, those roles were reversed: It was Obama who was drawing the contrasts, who looked energized, and who was in control of the conversation. And it was Romney who was playing it safe and often trying to point out similarities rather than differences. Obama was the candidate with more to prove; Romney simply wanted to clear the bar on the minimum height. Using another sports analogy: As anyone who watches football can attest, prevent defenses sometimes work (because they’re designed to prevent a big play and a quick score) and sometimes they don’t (because the defense loses its aggression and appears flat footed). Romney and his campaign clearly made the calculated risk that, with their momentum in the polls, playing it safe was a wiser strategy. If a race is tied, do you really play prevent defense? Only if you believe the race trajectory favors you. And that’s what the Romney campaign believes.
Ron Fournier at National Journal agrees that the President won, but that in the end it won't matter much.
Bottom line: Obama won Monday night’s debate on points, benefiting from the blessings of incumbency and hard-world experience. But the challenger held his own, and thus the state of the race is likely unchanged.
There are ample reasons for both Obama and Romney to feel optimistic about their chances on Nov. 6. But through his own steady performances and a spectacular first-debate failure by the incumbent, Romney has cleared an important hurdle: A near-decisive number of Americans believe that he is a viable alternative to Obama, an incumbent saddled with a weak economy and a pessimistic national mood.
And finally, Politico's Roger Simon said Obama took Romney to school.
Romney wasn’t terrible. But he was on the defensive for much of the evening, a fine sheen of sweat popped out on his forehead long before the debate ended, and — worst of all — Romney was repeatedly forced to say he agreed with Obama on policy after policy.
This may not have been so bad, but Obama chose a good evening to be good. Having learned his lesson in Denver, having sharpened his skills at the second debate in Hempstead, N.Y., Obama unloaded on Romney in Boca Raton with a prepared theme: “Wrong and reckless.”