Who Won the Presidential Debate: The Reason it Was Obama

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are tied in several nationwide polls, so the stakes are high in the final, foreign policy debate. With presumably few undecided voters remaining this late in the election, the pressure is high on both candidates to show competence and leadership in this area. 

In the last debate, the president gained the upper hand on foreign policy with his strong response to a question about the Benghazi, Libya attack.  In general, this area has been one of Obama’s strengths given his record of winding down the Iraq War and killing Osama bin Laden, but Romney has been keen to criticize the president for his handling of the Benghazi attack and for the perception that America has taken to a strategy of “leading from behind.” Romney has made it clear that he disagrees with this approach, and that he will continue to increase spending on the military and adopt a harder stance towards international rivals like China, Russia, and Iran.    

The fact remains, however, that foreign policy is usually not of much importance to voters, especially during difficult economic times.  People in this election are by and large voting on economic issues like entitlements, health care, and domestic programs.  So it’ll be interesting to see how much of an effect this final debate has. And let’s not forget that even if people aren’t all that concerned with foreign policy, they should be, since it’s the one area where the president is capable of independently shaping policy and making direct, unilateral decisions. 

The debate runs from 9-10:30 Eastern Time. It is being hosted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News. 

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.

10:34 Neither closing statement was excpetional.  Obama was himself, and Romney tried to be Reaganesque, but was very vague about policy proposals. 

10:28  The more this debate turns to domestic policy, the better it is for Romney.  He's hammering Obama's domestic record yet again. 

10:25 Fantastic.

10:23 Excellent point.

10:19  Romney's closing on China was strong. 

10:18 Romney just said that China wants the world to be free and open?  Where did that come from? 

10:15  Finally, a question on somewhere other than the Middle East, kind of. 

10:08 THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THE DEBATE:

This is Bob Schieffer's fault:  where are the questions on Russia, China, and Latin America? 

10:05  Again, Romney's prescriptions on Afghanistan are exactly the same as Obama's. 

10:01  Unfortunately for Romney, foreign policy is the one area where a strong critique of the president's record is not sufficient.  He has to come up with unique policy to distinguish himself, and he's not doing that. 

9:55 Romney has been criticizing Obama on Iran, but with regard to real policy has absolutely no substantive critiques. 

9:50 In case you were wondering...

9:46  Wow.  Obama's horses and bayonetts answer was incredible. 

9:41 Couldn't agree more with John Fugelsang.

9:39  The idea that repealing Obamacare will allow Romney to increase military spending and balance the budget is heinously absurd. 

9:36 Not surprisingly, each candidate is changing the subject to domestic policy.  People don't care about foreign policy. 

9:34 I like that Romney brought up Latin America.  It's an important region for us but the candidates have barely talked about it. 

9:33 Sorry for the delay.  The site has been having some problems.  So far Obama is coming across stronger; Mitt Romney hasn’t been able to draw strong distinctions between himself and the president while Obama has hit him hard for some of his past comments on Russia, Iraq, etc.  Bottom line: the Middle East is incredibly complicated and Obama has done a pretty solid job dealing with things.  Romney has a hard time proposing any different course because Americans are tired of war. 

9:07 Romney's run down of what's going on in the Middle East seemed random and totally lacking in teeth.  Who thought a Republican would ever say that we need a comprehensive strategy rather than "killing our way out of this mess?"  He's not wrong, just too vague. 

9:01 Here's a live stream of the debate.

8:29 This is hilarious.

UPDATE 8:23 PM  As per tradition, Nate Silver's FiveThiryEight blog projections for Nov. 6.  Since the first debate, the race has tightened considerably, with Obama retaining a narrow lead.  A recently released Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows the race essentially tied, but I still trust Silver on this since he's looking at multiple polls rather than just one.