On the debate stage last night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, President Obama came to play, and Mitt Romney played not to lose.
Many pundits and instapolls gave the win to Obama. Even Republicans we talked to last night were not arguing that Romney won, but instead emphasized that he stood his ground and didn't lose.
Romney's goal, according to ABC News Political Director Amy Walter: Appear presidential. That meant no wild punches, no silly sniping or rhetorical excess. His audience was not the GOP neo-cons, but instead were those handful of swing voters who he needs to convince that he's an acceptable and credible alternative to Obama.
(Click HERE for the full debate transcript and ABC News' debate analysis)
Obama, meanwhile, could not afford another Denver debate. And from the outset it was clear that he brought his aggressive side to Florida.
His goal was to keep his base engaged -- and motivated. But, just as important was the goal of undermining Romney's credibility as a potential commander in chief as well as a steward of the nation's economy.
That said, almost everyone agrees that this debate did nothing to move the needle in this very tight race. For the next two weeks it's all about turn out and motivation. To that point, President Obama's new two-minute ad shows he needs to do more than discredit Romney in these final days. He's also got to give folks a reason to vote for him.