Who Won the Debate: Obama, Romney Tie in Pointless Debate

Final Update: For post-debate recap, check out this article - Obama and Romney Debate Foreign Policy, Minus the Foreign and the Policy.

On Monday, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney square off at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, for the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 Elections. The focus of this last debate will be foreign policy, and it begins at 9:00 p.m. EST. Bob Schieffer of CBS News will moderate.

While most of the campaign has been about the economy, tensions flared in the last debate when former Governor Romney challenged the Obama administration's response to the recent murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. Voters can expect the Benghazi attack to be brought up again tonight. Iran and its nuclear program will also get a lot of time, especially in the wake of a New York Times report that the Obama Administration has tentatively agreed to one-on-one negotiations with Iran.

Although Libya, Iran, and the bloody Syrian civil war will dominate tonight's debate, there are plenty of other incredibly important topics to discuss as well - China, Putin's Russia, the growth of Al Qaeda in Africa, North Korea, Pakistan, Latin America, the Mexican drug war, and the solvency of the European Union. Discussion on human rights, human trafficking, trade relations, the drone war, and piracy would also be nice to hear about - though unlikely. Stay tuned!

Live Stream:

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LIVE UPDATES:

11:14 PM: CNN poll says Obama won 48%, Romney won 40%.

11:04 PM: Hannity says we saw two incredibly different candidates on stage tonight. I wonder what debate he was watching. Meanwhile, CNN has brought out their pointless magic map screen again.

10:56 PM: CNN keeps insisting that their upcoming poll is "scientific." Hint: it's probably not. Polls never are - especially just minutes after a debate is over.

10:35 PM: The debate is now over. Romney and Obama families are visiting with each other onstage. Post-debate recap coming, so stay tuned.

10:31 PM: Obama and Romney both make domestic economy focus of their closing statements.

10:27 PM: Food stamps. Genocide, nuclear proliferation, drug wars, collapsing governments, world economy teetering. We're talking about food stamps.
 

10:25 PM: Now we are arguing about the auto bailouts again. What a terrible foreign policy debate. Get Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in there. 

10:24 PM: Both candidates have been empty suits, President Obama is arrogant and reckless, Romney spoke well on Pakistan, but the President is somewhat outperforming Romney in this debate. Luckily for Romney it has been so boring that a lot of people have probably already tuned out, and most people (to our detriment) mostly ignore foreign policy anyways. Still, they're both incredibly similar on everything and the focus on domestic policy made this pointless.

10:20 PM: President Obama pivots to a personal attack, hitting Romney for having companies that ship jobs overseas in his investment portfolio.

10:18 PM: "On day one, I will label [China] as a currency manipulator." Mitt Romney then blasts China on piracy and patent stealing. This is reckless.

10:17 PM: "[China] wants the world to be free and open." When I said we should be more delicate with China, I did not mean let's pretend it's all unicorns and rainbows. Come on, Mitt.

10:16 PM: "The greatest national security threat to the WORLD is Iran. Now let's talk about China." ~Mitt Romney. 

10:15 PM: Ah, here comes the "who is tougher on China" portion of the debate.

10:13 PM: "This nation, me, my administration" stood by Tunisia and Egypt. There he goes again with the "me" stuff. Also, Tunisia ain't doing too well right now. Islamists are empowered, and human rights are endangered. We "stood" by them when they overthrew their last dictator, and are just watching as new dictators take over.

10:09 PM: Romney insists that we cannot abandon Pakistan right now. Cites that it is too dangerous and too unstable to divorce ourselves from. Romney is being incredibly coherent about the problem with Pakistan and its importance. Seems to understand that we need to play hardball with their military leadership.

10:06 PM: "There's no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of taking care of their own country," says President Obama. "It's time to do some nation-building here at home." In one minute Obama shifts from 9/11 to Afghanistan back to domestic education and roads.

10:04 PM: Pakistan is VERY important and, arguably, even more dangerous than Iran. All eyes are on Iran, and that is problematic. Not only does Pakistan have plenty of nuclear weapons, but its government is weak and while Al Qaeda grows stronger there. It is a huge, diplomatically delicate, strategically important mess.

10:02 PM: President Obama brings up 9/11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden. He says he was courageous for ordering the killing because stuff like that is sometimes not popular....

....right.... 

10:00 PM: "I don't see our influence growing in the world. I see it receding!" Mitt Romney cites growth of Al Qaeda and tension with Israel as foreign policy blunders for the President. Obama hits back on Mitt Romney's flipflops. Romney would be wise to pull out all of Obama's flipflops, but he agrees with most of them. 
 

9:58 PM: "The President of the United States and the United States have stood on the right side of history." Hm. This seems to be a new Obama thing lately. Whenever he is talking about the United States and Americans, he seems to separate himself from the fold. It's happened enough times now to take notice of it. It's curious.

9:57 PM: Obama hitting Romney on whose foreign trips went better and were more genuine. 

9:56 PM: "Mr. President, America has not dictated other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators." ~Mitt Romney

9:54 PM: Obama insists he stood up for Green Revolution in Iran. In reality, he dragged his feet and was really hestitant to come out and call Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah for their heinous crimes against humanity throughout that entire fiasco.

9:52 PM: Romney hitting Obama on 2008 campaign statements about sitting with Chavez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, etc. Hits Obama on the "Apology Tour" and failure to back the Green Revolution in Iran.
 

9:51 PM: "The clock is ticking," says the President. 

9:46 PM: Governor Romney says pretty much everything that President Obama said. Yep. This "debate" is great.

9:45 PM: President Obama reiterates unwavering support for Israel, insists that Iran will not get a bomb. "We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism." Praises "crippling" sanctions, says Iran has a choice - stop pursuit of nukes, or face a united world.

9:44 PM: Conversation shifts to Israel and Iran. 

9:43 PM: Obama declares U.S. Foreign Policy is not dictated by games of Battleship, loses Hasbro vote.
 

9:41 PM: Mitt Romney balanced the budget for the Olympics, just in case you didn't know.
 

9:37 PM: Does anyone know who is broadcasting the foreign policy debate? I seem to be stuck on some domestic policy debate...

9:36 PM: Schieffer: "Let me get back to foreign policy..."  Mitt Romney cuts him off to defend his education record.

 

9:34 PM: Now Obama is hitting Mitt Romney's record on small businesses as governor of Massachusetts. Then turns to education, because "we didn't have the chance to talk about this in the last debate."
Sigh. 

9:33 PM: Romney mentions importance of Latin America and trade deals with them. Good job.

9:31 PM: President Obama pivots to domestic issues too, mentions saving the auto industry. Taking very protectionist stance, which is always popular in bad economies.

9:29 PM: Romney pivots the discussion back to the economy, hits Obama on jobs for young people. Argument is that America cannot be strong abroad if we are not strong at home.

9:27 PM: Schieffer asks, What is America's role in the world?

9:25 PM: Romney really should be hitting Obama harder on Libya. President Obama went to war in Libya without congressional approval, and the entire time his administration insisted that regime change was not the goal. Now he is applauding himself for being focused so much on regime change. 

9:23 PM: Obama says that he's already doing pretty much everything Romney says he should.

9:21 PM: Mitt Romney wisely saying that he does not want to put troops in Syria. Wants to get rid of Assad by working with "partners in the region" to overthrow him. Advocating shipping arms to Syrian rebels.

9:19 PM: Hah, this is good:

 

9:14 PM: "We need to do nation-building here at home." Somewhere, Paul Krugman is laughing madly as he imagines coalition forces invading Detroit.
 

9:14 PM: Politicians really like lists. And the world tumult.

9:10 PM: "Governor Romney, I'm glad you realize that Al Qaeda is a threat... The Cold War has been over for 20 years!" Obama really hitting Romney on his former remarks about Russia being a threat.

9:09 PM: Whoah! Another Mali mentioned from Mitt. 

9:08 PM: Romney is rambling. Praising United Nations, listing nice ideas like "rule of law" and human rights, but not saying how he plans to shape the Middle East.

9:07: 

9:05 PM: Romney: "We can't kill our way out of this mess." Whoah. Was that a shot at the drone war?

9:04 PM: Mitt Romney mentioned Mali! That's one of my "drain the bottle" drinks. 

9:03 PM: Shorter Schieffer: What the heck happened in Libya?

9:02 PM: Schieffer starts out with history lesson regarding Cuban Missile Crisis. Lovely for us history nerds.

9:00 PM: It's go time!

8:56 PM: Mrs. Romney is flanked by her family. The First Lady is flanked by Charlie Crist.

8:54 PM: Bob Schieffer is on stage and now addressing the audience. "We have to be quiet as mice throughout this." I don't know about Bob, but whenever there are mice in my house, I certainly hear them at night.

8:43 PM: Michelle Obama and Ann Romney have entered the auditorium. The two of them look lovely as ever.

8:41 PM: 

8:36 PM: Senator John McCain, the only person to debate both President Obama and Governor Romney, now being interviewed by Candy Crowley on CNN. He argues that the debates should be less bickering and more enlightening - people tune in to learn.

8:30 PM: Since it's a foreign policy debate, drinking foreign beers. From the lovely Emerald Isle: Smithwicks.

8:21 PM: Blitzer asks Romney if we would back an Israeli military strike on Iran. "We've got Israel's back, at the U.N. and militarily." Goes on to talk about success of sanctions.

8:19 PM: Mitt Romney being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, in regards to the Arab Spring: We must shape events, not be at the mercy of events. We must play a role "to help shape what is happening [in Syria] and to rid ourselves of Mr. Assad."

8:02 PM: My friends over at the Skeptical Libertarian page have just posted a picture of some young women in 1972 Kabul, taken before the Marxists takeover, Soviet invasion, Saudi-Pakistani-American intervention, Taliban takeover, 9/11, and the War on Terror. It is startling how far things can fall. Sad.

7:57 PM: In her exclusive interview with PolicyMic's Edward Williams, Deputy Obama Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter argues that President Obama "has also taken the fight to Al-Qaeda. He broke the back of Al-Qaeda." General Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, argues in the Wall Street Journal that Al Qaeda is making a huge comeback and growing in power throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

7:45 PM: BREAKING: Romney wins both coin flips tonight and will answer first question and give the final closing statement.
 

7:37 PM: Speaking of Osama bin Laden's death, I actually missed President Obama's speech because I was outside of the White House that night. Here's the shoddy YouTube video. It was less chanting about Obama's victory, more chanting about America's victory.

7:33 PM: BREAKING: Just in case you had not heard yet, President Obama will tell us tonight that he gave the go-ahead on the operation that successfully killed Osama bin Laden. 

7:12 PM: As the candidates gear up for their final debate, the Los Angeles Times has a story about the real possibility of a 269-269 electoral tie between President Obama and Governor Romney. In-Trade currently thinks it is a 5% possibility. In the event of a tie in the Electoral College, the United States House of Representatives would elect the President and the United States Senate would elect the Vice President. This could conceivably lead to a Romney-Biden administration. It's unlikely, but possible. 

6:55 PM: Earlier this year, the President of Mali was ousted in a coup as rebels took over the northern part of that country. Since that time, Al Qaeda and radical Islamists have taken charge of large portions of the area. This is Iyad Ag Ghaly, the leader of the radical Ansar Dine. Since he has taken charge of Timbuktu, he has outlawed smoking, television, music, and Christianity while clamping down on women's rights. His goons are stoning people for adultery, chopping off hands for theft, and demolishing tombs in the ancient town. Mali will not be talked about in tonight's debate, but President Obama will most likely begin drone attacks in Mali if reelected.

 

6:44 PM: CNN talking head says that Obama would do well if he made it clear that Romney wants to return us to Bush foreign policies. This fails to account for the fact that Obama's foreign policy is only the Bush foreign policy on steroids. We've just replaced Congressional authorization of military force with unitary executive action, and waterboarding with death-by-drone.

6:39 PM: There are six topics in tonight's debate. 4/6 are about the Middle East:

* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World

Because nothing in Latin America, Africa, or Russia matters. Seriously. Nuclear North Korea? Meh. Reform of the United Nations? Hah! The rise of India and Brazil? Pfft. Mexico is a mess and it is actually attached to us, but it's not worth five minutes of a presidential candidate's time? Nah.

6:30 PM: Scott van Druzer, the Florida restaurant owner who famously gave President Obama a big bear hug, was invited to and will attend the debate tonight.

6:18 PM: Tonight, you can probably expect both candidates to talk tough on China.
 
China is going to be the most important country to U.S. foreign policy over the next century, and it is a relationship that must be handled delicately. Former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who served as President Obama's ambassador to China, recently weighed in on the Sino-American relationship and the foreign policy debate.

6:12 PM: Fareed Zakaria on CNN just now: "Foreign policy debates are different than domestic policy debates." Thank you, Fareed. That fact was totally lost on me before now.

6:08 PM: National Journal thinks that Mitt Romney will drop his hawkish stance towards Iran tonight and advocate diplomacy, citing an interview with Romney campaign spokesman Dan Senor.

5:57 PM EST: Alright, America, let's get started. My friends over at Cloture Club have developed the Final Presidential Debate Drinking Game.
 
Drinking phrases: Osama bin Laden, Libya, Nuclear Weapons, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Terrorism, September 11, United Nations, Troops, In Harms Way, Afghanistan, Iraq, Clinton, Intelligence Reports, Dependence on Foreign Oil, Brave Men and Women, Leaks from the White House, Drones, Guantanamo, Rose Garden Speech, Ambassador Stevens.