In the final presidential debate of election 2012, President Obama and former Governor Romney meet to present their cases for why they should be the next commander-in-chief, the leading voice in U.S. foreign policy.
This debate will be decisive, as Obama and Romney are in a dead heat in the polls (47% vs 47%). Both the GOP and the Democratic Party have confidence that they have the lead, but both recognize the importance of this final debate on foreign policy.
The Candidates & Their Foreign Policy Ideas
President Obama has generally led a foreign policy that puts strong defense and aggressive diplomacy toward the Middle East and Asia, where the U.S. has striven to shift its focus in the international arena. Though reluctant to have any strong presence in the ongoing Syrian conflict, Obama has shown himself to be a strong supporter of the Arab Spring. At the same time, he has continued to engage China, the rising power in Asia, with caution and a desire to seek constructive relations. On the bright side, Obama has successfully killed Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for the atrocities of 9/11, and numerous other terrorist leaders in Al Qaeda.
Governor Romney, while having few foreign policy credentials, has presented a hard-line strategy for U.S. foreign policy which emphasizes the use of American power to forcefully enforce U.S. interests across the world. He has promised to confront China on its "illegal and unfair" trade practices, including heavy subsidies that Beijing gives to Chinese companies, and to be tough on China in support of U.S. allies. Romney has also stated that he would put in place a tougher economic sanction on Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program. Furthermore, Romney has argued that the U.S. should engage in a search and destroy approach to the Aghanistan campaign rather than continue diplomatic talks with the Taliban.
Predictions for the Presidential Debate
Prediction #1: Based on the second debate, it is likely that the Benghazi incident will play a prominent role as both Obama and Romney will try to reframe the issue.
Prediction #2: China's economic practices and role in Asia will be a source of contention with both candidates trying to prove that they are tougher on China and can firmly manage relations with this growing power.
Prediction #3: Romney will advocate American exceptionalism and push the view that the U.S. should use its hard power to get its way with Iran and other adversaries in the developing world, other than China and Russia.
Prediciton #4: Obama will highlight his role in fostering democracy and freedom in the Middle East by supporting the Arab Spring and ending the Iraq War with little fanfare.
PolicyMic will be covering the final presidential debate in its entirety. Check back here for all the latest analysis, polls, gaffes, news, zingers, thrills and spills. Bookmark and refresh this page for the most recent updates.
9:02PM Game on!!!
9:06PM Romney says "We shouldn't kill our way out of our problems"!
In a shocking turn of events, Romney advocates a fairly moderate his policy toward the U.S. role in the world and handling current conflicts. Interestingly he also mentioned Mali and the Al Qaeda branch there.
9:12PM Obama calls out Romney on his foreign policy credentials and Romnesia on Russia...
As predicted, Romney's lack of foreign policy experience has become a pointed jab from President Obama. Interesting to hear Obama say rip on Romney for his Cold War global politics and "outdated" vision of the world.
9:18PM Both Obama and Romney advocates a hands off approach in Syria.
Obama advocates ending the Assad Regime with passive U.S. assistance. Romney differentiates by advocating a more careful approach by not arming the "wrong" insurgents who might attack us. This view harkens back to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, which started in 1979, and the rise of the Taliban and their Al Qaeda friends.
9:21PM Obama touts his support of the rebels in Libya and removing Qadafi.
Obama paraded his role in backing the rebels that overthrew Qadafi. He notes Romney's "flip-flopping" on U.S. involvement in Libya. Romney and Obama agree on the need for a "moderate" leadership in Syria and Libya. Not as contentious as I expected from the two. I guess that there won't be a huge difference on general U.S. principles in the Middle East regardless of who wins.
9:27PM Romney turns the foreign policy debate to the economy.
Romney attacks Obama for undermining national security through his poor handling of the American economic recovery. This was kind of short, but a legitimate issue. The economy is indeed weak, but growing. But one must wonder if it could be better without partisan bickering.
P.S. Romney loves the U.S. military and supporting U.S. college graduates (50% unemployment?). Not too sure about this statistic.
9:31PM Obama says "The world needs a strong America" and the U.S. has "unprecedented military and intelligence cooperaiton" from allies to allow us to rebuilt the economy.
Obama says we'll cut energy dependency by 50% by 2020 and attacks Romney for praising Bush/Cheney. Really? I don't think that the Bush card works anymore. At the same time, it's interesting to see Obama mirroring Romney's belief in American Exceptionalism.
9:35PM It's official: tonight's Mitt Romney is "Moderate Mitt"!
So far Romney has been very moderate in his views on fighting terrorism, advocating democracy in the Middle East, and helping U.S. allies. Neither has been very combative in their exchanges.
9:37PM Obama: We need to educate America to compete in the global economy!
Obama attacks Romney for his lackluster education policy. Nice jab! It sort of goes back to Romney's attack earlier on Obama weakening the U.S. with poor domestic policies. To be fair Obam's jab was not substantive with no accompanying facts.
Mitt Romney touts his education record in Massachusetts with the MCAS - annual state tests - and the high score results during his time as governor.
9:38PM The catfight starts in earnest!
Now both are going at each other! Finally! This is the brawl I was expecting! Cutting into one another with gusto!
9:44PM Obama: U.S. defense isn't a "game of Battleship"!
Romney attacks Obama for cutting funding for battleships. Obama counterattacks with fury by lecturing on what a "modern military" needs and explains how an aircraft carrier works and telling Romney the U.S. doesn't use bayonets anymore. Stark words from Obama, but fair since Romney's attack was petty and wonky.
9:46PM Obama declares: Iran must take the "diplomatic route" or face a "united" world.
Obama says he firmly supports Israel and will strongly counter Iran's nuclear program. It's nice to see some bipartisanship during a presidential debate. Almost civil compared to recent sessions of Congress since the 2010 Elections.
9:49PM Romney says he loves "crippling sanctions" on Iran and says he'll do more to starve Iran by "tightening sancitons" for "genocide" committed by Tehran leaders.
Mitt plays the tough guy on Iran to outdo Obama, but leaves moderate ultimatum of using military force against Iran. Tough sanctions are Mitt's tools of fighting Iran. Seems to be working, though the idea of tough sanctions isn't Mitt's "original" idea for foreign policy.
9:51PM Obama meekly splits hairs on U.S. Iran policy.
Honestly, I don't think either guy disagrees on using sanctions on Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program. No points for either. Interesting to see Obama deny bilateral talks with Iran and emphasizing the fact that "the clock is ticking" on talks.
9:52 Romney attacks Obama's "Apology Tour" in his early administration and for not being tough!
Romney emphasizes an unremitting "tight sanctions" on Iran and attacks Obama for not being a tough and "exceptional" American foreign policy.
Obama attacks with a professorial analysis of Romney's investment into a Chinese oil company with dealings with Iran. Not sure how this will sell to Main Street.
9:59PM Schieffer: "What if the President of Israel called and said the bombers were on the way" to bomb Iran?
Romney says he's such close pals with the President of Israel that he would've received the call way before the bombers were taking off for Iran. He plays the "moderate" card on using diplomatic pressure to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
10:00PM Obama's Big Romnesia Jab #2
Obama goes after Romney for Romnesia on ending war in Afghanistan, being weak on killing Osama Bin Laden, Libya, and other issues. Good personal touch by adding the personal story with 9/11 victim. Obama plays up the tough and decisive leadership on terrorism.
10:07PM Obama and Romney agree that Afghanistan is a success and we should pull out for "Afghanization".
Wow! Another round of bipartisan agreement on foreign policy! Both guys agree that the job in Afghanistan is done with Osama Bin Laden killed and training of Afghan forces on schedule to allow the 2014 exit.
Obama adds a nice finish with a personal story on helping Vets to get work after coming home.
10:09PM Bob Schieffer almost says "Obama Bin Laden"!
Moderator almost said the taboo words: Obama Bin Laden! Moderators are having such bad luck controlling their words this year. Just strange. Are the memes coming? Bob. Bob. Bob. Come on!
Meme prediction: O O O Obama bin laden. Don't
10:16PM Obama attacks China for being a "Cheater" in trade relations.
Obama says the U.S. and China are "frenemies", but adds that China is a "cheater" in trade relations. He brags about his trade cases against Chinese economic practives. He touts his work to strengthen U.S. workers from unfair trade practices.
10:19PM Romney says "China please play by the rules"! Trade war on day one?
Romney acknowledges cyber conflict with China with Chinese cyber spies stealing industrial secrets and counterfeiting goods and being a "currency manipulator". Tough Mitt emerges with China. Tough Mitt: I like to work with China, but I want China to play by the rules. Fair point, Governor. Obama agrees.
10:22PM Obama says U.S. exports will rise in relation to China.
Obama touts favorable exchange rate with Chinese Yuan and predicts more exports from the U.S. and jabs Romney, again, for being against exports of U.S. cars. Fact check needed here on Obama's claim that "a son of Detroit" would be against U.S. cars being exported again in larger numbers.
10:25PM The Solyndra Attack is on from Romney...
Romney shifts the foreign policy debate to the economy once more. This time he takes out a big hammer on Obama and attacking the Solyndra debacle. Finally a strong jab from Romney!
Obama seems to be running away by attacking Romney on education, tax cuts for the rich, and "unwanted" military spending. Kinda detracts from Romney's attack on "Solyndra" and shows a bit of weakness considering the massive failure of the government investment.
10:30PM Concluding Remarks: America is #1 and bipartisanship is not dead!
Obama: I'll fight for your families and make America #1 in the world!
Romney: I'll balance the budget, create jobs, and be bipartisan!
Question: Who are "good" Democrats and Republicans, Governor?
America, the hope of the Earth! Nice touch, Governor! American Exceptionalism to top off the final debate from Romney. I knew that this was Mitt's calling card.