Tonight's debate format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on a different foreign policy issue. The moderator will open each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Following the candidates' responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic. The six question/discussion segments will encompass the following themes, subject to possible changes because of news developments, and not necessarily to be brought up in this order:
- 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
The moderator of tonight’s debate will be "Face The Nation" host Bob Schieffer.
My opinion: It will be interesting to watch the two candidates debate tonight, for both President Obama and Governor Romney have spent an overwhelming amount of time focusing on economic issues, leaving social issues and foreign policy in the background.
My prediction: I'm expecting to be unsurprised yet still disappointed by the lack of substance in what both candidates will say about America’s role in the world. Also, I'm expecting NDAA, Guantanamo, drone strikes, and civil liberties to be completely ignored. Let’s get excited! USA!
Final Presidential Debate:
Topic: Foreign policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)
Live Updates of tonight's debate:
9:02: Candidates walk onto the stage, greet the moderator.
9:04: First question, of course, is regarding Libya. Romney answers first. Stresses the fact that Islamic extremism is the real threat. Says, "we can't kill our way out of this mess."
9:07: Obama wants to bring those who killed those at Bengazi to justice. Draws attention to the fact that he "ended the war in Iraq."
9:09: Romney states: "We don't want another Iraq, we don't want another Afghanistan," but suggests targeting Islamic extremists. Also stresses better education, gender equality, economic stability, etc. Doesn't outline how he plans to do this.
9:11: Obama says Romney wants more troops in Iraq, advocated against nuclear treaties with Russia. Says Romney is sending mixed messages to our friends and allies. We need "strong, steady leadership" in the Middle East, which he says Romney does not have.
9:13: Romney says, "Iran is the greatest national security threat we face." Will not wear "rose colored glasses" when it comes to Russia.
9:21: "Mission Creep" : Romney's thoughts on Obama's handling of Libya. What?
9:22: Moderator asks Romney if there should be a "no-fly zone" in Syria. Thinks we should replace Syria's goverment with one that's "more friendly to us." Wants to overthrow the Syrian government now? Wants to give opposition weapons, but wants to make sure they only use them to get rid of Assad. This is loose-talk, and dangerous foreign policy.
9:24: Moderator asks Obama if he has any regrets when it comes to Egypt. Obama responds, saying that we always "stand with democracy." Says that we need to make sure we stand up for religious minorities, women; need to abide by their treaty with Israel, if they don't, USA security and Israel's security is at stake. Says we will help them develop their own economy--we need to give them a sense of how to rebuild their economy that's "not corrupt, that's transparent." "It's very hard to project our leadership around the world when we're not doing what we need to do here."
9:28: Romney advocates AGAINST sequestration, while simultaneously states American debt makes us weak. One position has to give, you know.
New Question: What is America's role in the world?
9:29: "When there are elections, people tend to vote for peace, not for war." Says America must be strong in order to lead. I assume he's talking about military strength, mostly, but also emphasizes the economy. News to Romney: increasing the strength of our military is SPENDING.
9:31: Obama says he ended the war in Iraq. Again. Says he's focused on strengthening our alliances. Says they've been the strongest they've been in over a decade. Not sure what he's talking about here. Starts talking about domestic issues--wants to focus on making our education system "the best in the world." Stresses energy independence, cutting spending we don't need, wants wealthy to spend a little bit more, etc. etc. (everything we've already heard before). Says Romney has pursued "wrong and reckless policies."
9:33: Romney says he has the capabilities of creating millions of new jobs, says we're going to have North American energy independence. How many times have we heard this, seriously? "Latin America is a huge opportunity for us--time zone, language opportunites." Not sure what he means by this.
9:36: Not surprised that this debate, which was supposed to be on foreign policy, has switched to domestic policy. The moderator needs to press these candidates where it hurts. What about drones, NDAA, civil liberties, bombing Iran, etc? We've already heard these points in the past two debates.
9:38: Finally, the moderator brings it back to foreign policy. Asks Romney where he's going to get the money to pay for expanding the military.
9:40: Romney tells the moderator to "come look at our website" to find out what the details are of his economic plan. Not a good strategy. Says he's going to get rid of Obamacare, wants to keep Medicare, give Medicaid to the states, but not cut military spending. My opinion: we don't need a bigger military, but fewer military interventions.
9:41: Obama brings up the fact that we spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined. Not sure why he's acting like Romney is the only one who wants to spend money on the military.
9:42: Romney says he went to the Olympics, and balanced the budget. Not sure what he's talking about or what the Olympics has to do with anything. Says he will balance the budget, but sequestration is unacceptable. Says we're only engaged in one conflict. So, which one is he talking about? Also--remember he suggested overthrowing the Syrian regime.
9:44: Obama says his budget hasn't expanded military spending, but it's remained the same. Suggests Romney's military strategies are out of date: "we don't use horses and bayonetts."
Next Question: "Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States?" Ooh, this should be interesting.
9:46: "If Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel," says Obama. If Iran doesn't dismantle their nuclear program, they'll have to face "a united world, and me." Says sending troops into Iran should be "the last resort, not the first resort."
9:48: Romney says he will stand with Israel. Says that it's essential for us to understand our mission in Iran--calls for crippling sanctions, peaceful diplomatic measures. Says ships carrying Iranian oil should be banned from United States, wants Ahmadinejad should be indicted by the UN for genocide.
9:51: Obama says envoking sanctions is a painstaking process. Says, "the clock is ticking" -- if they don't meet the demands of the international community, will take "all options necessary" to ensure they don't have nuclear capability.
9:53: Says Iran has seen weakness when they've expected to see American strength. Criticizes Obama for sitting down with dictators, says his "apology tour" was a sign of weakness. Says this weakness allowed Iranians to continue to prepare a nuclear "threat to the United States and to the rest of the world." Stresses American strength, tightening sanctions once again. Note: sanctions hurt the Iranian people, don't make us safer
9:56: Obama suggests Romney was in business with Iranian oil companies while sanctions were in place. Not sure if this is founded.
9:57: Romney says we're four years closer to a nuclear Iran. Suggests that Obama purposefully skipped Israel on his "apology tour." Says America's done nothing but free other nations from dictators.
9:58: OKAY. Obama says that he thinks, "what if these were my kids?" but forgets that he's killed several children in drone strikes. Do these thoughts occur to him then? Also, why is he bringing up women's rights and religious freedom for the 4th time?
10:00: Romney brings up Syria again.
10:05: "We're going to be done by 2014 in Afghanistan." -Romney. Is he suggesting Afghanistan is a success? What have we been doing there? He doesn't elaborate on this. Says we need to help Pakistan become a more stable government. More drone strikes? Note: Pakistani gov't, people stand united in their belief that Pakistan does not need the US: http://j.mp/TDd4oc (source: @CatoFP)
10:08: Obama says due to transitions to Afghanistan, has been able to allocate resources to help troops at home.
10:10: Will Pakistan become a failed state without American intervention? Romney thinks so.
-The moderator brings up drones! YES!
10:12: Romney supports drone strikes. Says we need to help nations reject Islamic extremism. How? I'm getting too depressed to keep blogging.
10:14: Obama says we've helped these governments treat women with respect and dignity. He's really going after the women's vote tonight. "There will always be elements within these countries that will threaten the United States," but must maintain villigance in combatting terrorism. Does not address drone attacks. Disappointing.
10:16: Obama says that he saved jobs by preventing China from selling America cheap tires. -But what about the consumer? Why should we be forced to buy more expensive tires, if a cheaper option is available? "Saving jobs" at the expensive of the consumer isn't a strong economic policy.
10:18: Romney says the greatest threat to America is a nuclear Iran. "If I'm president, America will be VERY strong." Says China hasn't played by the same rules as America, makes our goods less competitive, and that this needs to end. Says on day one, will label China as a "currency manipulator," that they're "hacking into our computers." What? "We love free enterprise, but you gotta play by our rules." ---> That is not free enterprise.
10:21: Obama says Romney invested in companies that shipped jobs overseas. "That's how our free market works, but i've made a different bet on our American workers." Brings up the auto industry, bailouts. Says he's responsible for doubling our exports to China. --The president does not control exports. What is so difficult to understand?!
10:24: Romney says he would do nothing to hurt the auto industry. Companies needed to go through bankruptcy, but would provide "government guarantees." (so what's the point of bankruptcy then?) "Investing in think tanks--that's great" -I'm pretty sure no think tank, at least the one I work at, wants government money. They're non-profit for a reason.
10:28: I'm not sure if I should continue live blogging, because this debate has once again dissolved into domestic policy issues.
10:30: Closing Statements, Obama's first. Says Romney wants to bring us back to foreign policies that are "wrong and reckless." Wants to retain our workers, create the best education system in the world, energy independence, reduce deficit by cutting spending we don't need, asking wealthy to pay more, invest in researching, wants to maintain the strongest military in the world, "go after those who would do us harm," after a decade at war, we need to take care of our roads and bridges, veterans, etc. --Doesn't explain how he plans to cut government spending, deficit--his policies will neither lower the debt nor make the average American more prosperous.
10:32: Romney's closing statement. Wants to see growing peace in our country, promote principles of peace (although everything he said tonight indicated otherwise). Wants to get our country "going again" --says we're heading toward Greece. Says he'll create 12 million jobs, get people off of food stamps by getting people "good jobs." Says he can get along with the other side of the aisle. Wants to maintain America as the "hope of the earth." --Advocates for peace, but has been nothing but hawkish the entire night. Wants to overthrow the Syrian government, arm the rebels with weapons, attack Iran, continue "efforts" in Pakistan, "stop Islamic extremism" (at what expense?), is pro-drone, etc. This is not a candidate for peace.
Moderator makes closing statements. Moderator quotes his mom: "Go vote, it makes you feel big and strong." --Like the United States military? No thanks!
-End of Debate-
Thanks for reading!