* Back to the original red-tie-Romney blue-tie-Obama arrangement.

* Schieffer remembers Cuban missile crisis, as do I, but how many swing voters do? Certainly sets up Mitt on Iran.

* “Unraveling foreign policy” frame in question pretty big gift to Mitt.

* Did Mitt just admit we weren’t sure who was behind attacks in Libya?

* As widely predicted, Romney gets tiny grace note on OBL out of the way. “Can’t kill our way out of this,” he says. Upsetting to GOP base?

* Interesting to see Obama go back and compare cost of Libya to Iraq.

* Is Romney for or against killing?

* Obama not looking down on split-screen, though Romney being pretty boring as he quotes Arab scholars and name-checks countries.

* Obama executes first pivot: “Foreign policies of 80s, social policies of 50s, economic policies of 20s.” Obama really throwing a wide assortment of bait out there: Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

* Mitt pivots to “no second term agenda.” Not sure most viewers got Putin zinger.

* Mitt definitely has been told not to talk over Obama. Just letting him go. Schieffer predictably cut it off, but I’m sure conservatives are already complaining about Obama’s time-of-possession.

* Syria: Obama does standard talking points. Romney goes wonky, denies interested in troop deployment. More Mitt name-checking of ethnic groups in region. Just passed Obama in talking time. Not scoring many points.

* Theory that Obama saves attacks on Romney until late in exchanges confirmed by his late veer into Libya and “mission creep” quote. Romney apparently not going to respond, which he would have done in second debate.

* Watching CNN focus group dial responses. Lotta flat lines with both candidates, but a lot more with Romney.

* Loaded question to Obama from Schieffer about “regrets” on Egypt. Obama seems very prepared. Schieffer really letting him go.

* Mitt given blunt question about Mubarak, and has to agree with Obama. Now Romney does fairly ponderous pivot to “security through economy” rap, then to defense cuts. Almost sounds like an opening statement.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.