The showdown was hosted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and moderated by CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. Its focus was on foreign policy and the topics of debate included: America's role in the world, our longest war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where to draw the “red line” in Iran and Israel, the changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism (I and II) and the rise of China and tomorrow's world.
In contrast to the first two debates, Romney seemed to be less contentious and actually agreed with a number of the president's foreign policies. He came across less radical and more moderate to appeal to Independent voters. He also appeared as a reasonable candidate that will not start another war. In addition, Romney misspoke on some issues which included the reasons why the US navy is smaller and he called Syria "Iran's route to the sea," despite the fact that the two countries do not share a border.
Obama, on the other hand, let his record and foreign policy achievements speak for themselves! Obama called his challenger out several times for flip flopping on foreign issues and accused him of sending a confusing message to US allies and our troops. The president had a strong debate performance and shined on many topics including China and Syria.
Here's some of the topics that were debated:
Is the Libya crisis indicative of an unraveling foreign policy?
The first question of debate asked what lead to the attacks in Libya that killed four US diplomats including an US Ambassador. Mitt Romney started by congratulating the president on killing Osama bin Laden, but listed growing concerns about foreign threats to America including the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The president responded assuring viewers that he did all he could to protect Americans overseas as soon as he learned of the Middle Eastern attacks.
Romney retorted by talking about cracking down on the Muslim world and anti-American groups.
Obama pointed out that Romney said we should still have troops in Iraq and that he flipped flopped on the Afghanistan troop withdrawal timeline. "I would not have left 10,000 troops in Irag," said the POTUS. Speaking assertively and with expertise, Obama then broke down solutions to keep peace worldwide.
Should we reassess our Syria Policy?
The president opened up saying, "what we are seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking," but he clarified that he does not want to get caught up with their forces on a military level.Romney agreed that the US should not get in a military conflict with Syria. But he said, "We need a very effective leadership effort in Syria."
Obama shot back saying that "we are playing the leadership role" in Syria. When we went into Libya, and we stopped the massacre there, we had to make sure that Gaddafi didn't stay there. Romney did not support removing Gaddafi despite the "American blood on his hands," said the president.
Romney reiterated the point that US military should not be in Syria several times during this debate question. He suggested that we should have organized military forces in Syria.
Obama fired back at Romney explaining that he doesn't have different ideas, because we're actually doing what he is suggesting.
What is America's role in the world?
Both candidates used this question to tie in domestic policies and strategies.
Obama stated that Romney praised Bush and Cheney, and is taking us back to those kind of strategies that will not lead America forward.
Obama continued: "Governor, when you were in Massachusetts, you did not help the growth of small businesses."
"Under my leadership we have reformed education," said the president. I want to hire more teachers in math and science."
Romney shot back saying that he helped Massachusetts' education become one of the top systems in the nation.
Where are you going to get the money for a bigger military?
Romney started by saying, we need to get rid of programs like Obamacare and empower states to run Medicaid. Obama retorted, Gov. Romney has called for $5 trillion of tax cuts. He also wants to spend $2 trillion in military spending despite the fact that the military is not asking for it. You can't spend all this money and deal with the budget because "the math simply doesn't work," said the incumbent. Our budget is driven by strategy, not politics, he added.
Romney touted his business record to reassure viewers that he could balance the budget. Our navy is the smallest now then it has been since the early 1900's. Our air force is also very small. "I will not cut our military budget by $1 trillion."
Obama shot back with a greater zinger saying that "the question is not a game of battleship," and explained that Romney does not understand why we actually shrank the navy.
What deal would you accept for talks with Iran?
Obama stated, we had to make sure all countries participated in imposing sanctions. He continued staying that he would put pressure on Iran and he will not allow Iran to make negotiations that lead to nowhere. "The clock is ticking," he said. If Iran does not meet International demands, we will make sure they don't have a nuclear weapon."
Romney attacked the president saying that Iran looks at the US as weak and said that the president went on an "apology tour." "It's essential for a president to show strength from the very beginning," said the GOP nominee. "We need to put the pressure on Iran."
In response, the POTUS pointed out that he never went on an apology tour and said that Romney was invested in a Chinese company which shows that he would not be effective when it comes to crippling sanctions. Obama continued, the strength we showed in Iran shows that "we have mobilized the world." He also stressed that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under his administration.
Obama also gave a moving speech about his travels to Israel and visits to Holocaust museums as a presidential candidate years ago, which he did rather than holding fundraisers in Israel.
Additionally, Obama pointed out that Romney indicated in 2008 that he would not have killed Osama Bin Laden and that he would have first asked Pakistan for permission.
What would you do if the Afghan security forces aren't ready?
Romney started his answer by saying he agrees with Obama's exit strategy to remove troops from Afghanistan in 2014. He also said that we need to condition the aide we send to Pakistan in order to help them move in the right direction.
Obama said, we ended the War in Iraq and we delivered a surge of troops in Afghanistan. However, we are now in a position to move out in a responsible fashion. He now wants to use US funding to build up America infrastructure and take care of veterans.
Is it time to divorce Pakistan?
Romney began his statement saying that it is not time to divorce Pakistan because it has weapons of war and it does not have a civilian leadership. Inside Pakistan, there is a lot of Taliban, he continued. On the question of the use of drone strikes, Romney declared that he backs the POTUS's use of drones.
Obama spoke on this issue by explaining that Americans should be proud that we stood on the side of democracy in Egypt. He also boasted that al-Qaeda is much weaker than when he first took office.
What is the greatest future threat to the US?
"Terrorist networks," answered the POTUS. However, he then went on to talk about China and mentioned that China must play by the same rules that everybody else follows.
Romney said that the greatest threat is a "nuclear Iran." He also said that China is similar to America because they want the economy to work and he proposed becoming a "partner" with China. He went on to say that China does not respect the US because of Obama's policies which make us look weak. We also need trade relations with China that works for us in order to secure US jobs. "On day one I will label them a currency manipulator," said Romney. We have a huge trade war in China, said the GOP candidate.
Obama struck back by pointing out that Romney invested in companies that outsourced jobs to China and that his policies will send about 800,000 jobs to places like China. We believe that China can be a partner, said the president, but we are sending a very clear signal that China needs to meet basic international standards.
Things got heated when the issue of Romney's record on Detroit was brought up! The two candidates went back and forth and Obama even said "let's get the record" to prove who is right and who is wrong.
Obama closed out the debate saying that he has a plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, strengthen education and reduce the deficit by asking the "wealthy to do a little more." He continued saying that we need to do some nation building and care for our veterans. "I promise that I will always listen to your voice and I will fight for your families," said the POTUS.
In Romney's closing statement, he said he wants to get the economy going and promised to create 12 million new jobs and get people off of food stamps.
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