Who Won the Presidential Debate: Obama's Policies, Because He and Romney Agree on Everything

On Monday, the nation will be watching the final presidential debate taking place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. After a highly interesting and combative second debate, expectations will be high. The final debate will focus on foreign policy and will begin at 9:00 pm EST.

The debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News. He has had a long career in the news business and his previous experience will be useful in facilitating an open and frank discussion about foreign policy. Scheiffer must be willing to enforce the rules of engagement and ask the necessary follow-up questions to move the candidates beyond their usual talking points into actual explanations of their proposed policies.

President Obama only has a slight lead on Governor Romney in the polls regarding foreign policy, so expect a lively and tense discussion on Monday night. This final debate is Governor Romney’s opportunity to prove to the nation that he has the ability to lead the nation as commander–in–chief, and hopefully this will force a more than cursory overview of foreign policy issues.

With the topics announced by Schieffer, nothing on the list is unexpected. While these topics are difficult to navigate, this debate provides an opportunity to discuss other pressing issues including Palestine, questions of foreign aid, the use of drones, defense spending, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, rendition, human trafficking, and the list could go on and on. The list of topics are general enough to provide room to discuss a number of the aforementioned issues, with some more likely than others to make an appearance. How will this debate end? Only time and Schieffer’s follow-up questions will tell.

Final Presidential Debate Live Stream:

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UPDATE 11:36 PM  This debate lacked an in-depth discussion of drones and nothing significantly different on Syria. Ultimately, Obama wins. Post-debate analysis here.

10:34 PM  Closing arguments by both sides bring us back to largely domestic issues. President Obama focuses on the progress made since he took office and states that he will maintain a strong military. He focuses on nation building and the unwillingness of Americans to go into another war. Romney focuses on domestic issues. America is the hope of the world and he plans to keep it that way.

 10:28 PM  Romney saying that Obama's economic policies don't work. Same old rhetoric on both sides. Well, it is over now. Regarding the Detroit argument, you can read the opinion piece here.

 10:22 PM  Romney gives a decent answer about creating a relationship with China with focuses on them "following the rules." Obama hits back with the "Romney outsources jobs" jab.

10:21 PM  The Twitter handle appears:

10:19 PM  Schieffer pushes Romney on his China policies. 

10:17 PM Schieffer is doing a great job but he needs to keep Obama on topic. How did we move from speaking about the biggest threat to US national security (not China) to discussing holding China accountable?

10:14 PM Schieffer brings up drones and yet we quickly moved away from them. This was an opportunity to press them on the efficacy and legality of drones and not just whether they would use them.

10:13 PM Did anyone else hear "Obama Bin Laden"?

10:11 PM Here come the changing nature of war memes - now all we need is a Twitter handle and a Tumblr.

10:07 PM  I wonder if anyone will mention Palestine........  Folks on Twitter are wondering the same.

10:05 PM  Onto Afghanistan and basically they are repeating talking points. Troops out by 2014. Where is the actual debate?

9:59 PM  Romney is not really clarifying the difference between himself and President Obama. His best bet is to continue with the strand of a strong defense and try to make himself stand out there.  He also needs to refrain from doing this ever again:

9:57 PM Romney hammers in on the apology tour and says Obama is not close with Israel. Obama responds by showing examples that shows how much he loves Israel. Schieffer move on!

9:49 PM  Romney says he would have Iranian leaders convicted under the Genocide Convention. MALARKEY! First of all, there is no genocide and secondly, the US does not need to be threatening ICC action we we won't even sign the Rome Statute.

9:48 PM  My personal opinion about whether we need to fight on behalf of Israel aside, President Obama stand by Israel (of course) and makes it clear that preemptive action is unnecessary.

9:44 PM Zing! The changing nature of war. "We also have less horses and bayonets." 

9:41 Romney referring Schieffer to the website and his plan was unnecessary. He clearly does not want to be pressed too much on the math.

9:39 PM Schieffer tries to bring the focus back to foreign policy. Romney needs to listen to Schieffer's questioning and stop interrupting.

9:35 PM  FINALLY! The emergence of the elusive Five Point Plan. In summary, 1) Energy Independence 2) Increasing trade particularly in Latin America 3) More training and better schools 4) Balanced Budget 5) Championing small business. The listing of these five points is an huge improvement from the previous debates in which he just refers to plan in general.

9:32 PM Romney says that we need to ensure we have a strong military and economy but there was no mention of how he would do that. Although, he gives a great overview of the major happenings in Middle East, he needs to continue on the path of differentiating himself.

9:26 PM Romney basically agrees with Obama and moves us on to the economy. This is getting slow, if Romney wants to make an impression, he needs to differentiate himself and that’s not happening right now.

9:24 PM On Egypt, Obama stresses the importance of keeping the treaty with Israel (of course).

9:23 PM Obama follows by saying that Romney has no different ideas because the administration is doing what they should. I agree that Romney has no different ideas, I do not agree that the world community is actually doing everything it can to stop the slaughter in Syria.

9:22 PM Schieffer presses about potential military action, possibly no-fly zones.  Romney says no military involvement in Libya.

9:21 PM Obama inching ahead as Romney fails to differentiate himself from Obama’s policies on the question of Syria. 

9:18 PM The Cold War zinger went over well.

9:15 PM  Obama and Romney basically agree on how to combat extremism through nation building. Obama continues to hammer on the necessity of steady leadership. Now moving to Syria.

9:10 PM Romney made some interesting points regarding how to prevent extremism including education, development and gender equality. Obama calls Romney on Cold War politics and claims he is unable to provide steady leadership. Romney says - not true.

9:08 PM Romney has the first answer and he says that we need a comprehensive strategy and that we cannot "kill our way out of it." I agree that the world needs to reject extremism but he offers no plan as to how that is done. He is requesting a paradigm shift away from violence with no way to spark that shift. President Obama uses his typical three point listing of steps which I find effective. 

9:03 PM  The first question focuses on Libya. Totally called this.   

9:01 PM  Here we go. Schieffer has welcomed the candidates onto the stage. Obama does  the typical arm pat.

8:56 PM Governor Romney has the final close and he needs to seize this opportunity as many are questioning his capacity as Commander-in-Chief 

8:53 PM  Moderator Bob Schieffer is addressing the audience and is looking for a debate "worthy of the presidency." I look forward to his follow-up questions and I hope he keeps the candidates focused and pushes them to answer the questions.

8:50 PM I was expecting a little more due to the fact that this is the final debate but no base revving for Romney yet. He simply requests that you follow his team.

 

8:42 PM I am sure we can expect some discussion about Guantanamo Bay. Romney will surely hit Obama on his failure to close it, but that won't be enough. Romney also needs to provide a workable alternative that would close Guantanamo faster. Obama needs to clearly explain why Guantanamo has not been closed and what steps he is taking to make the final closure happen.

 8:31 PM  Governor Romney gets a little family time in before the battle begins

 

8:25 PM  President Obama is revving up the base

8:11 PM As we prepare for the debates to begin in less than an hour, the Twitterverse is full of action.

I agree that at times that answers can be nonsensical. Both candidates need to make their foreign policy positions clear. Simply stating that they have a plan or that they don't agree with the other candidate is not sufficient. Criticism needs to be followed by alternatives.

5:30 PM Pre-debate analysis on the neccessity of a clear plan for Syria