Final presidential debate sparks discussion on foreign policy
Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. played host to the third and final presidential debate Monday night between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.
The fourth and final debate, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News, concentrated on issues of foreign policy. Schieffer introduced the debate by recalling of the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, which brought the nation closer to nuclear war than ever before.
“It is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad,” Schieffer said.
Scheiffer began the debate by introducing the challenge of a changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism. He posed the controversy of Libya and why that attack took place, and asked each of the candidates to respond as to why this happened.
“This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to America in particular, which is to see a complete change in the structure and the environment in the Middle East,” Romney began. “With the Arab Spring, came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation, and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life, and in economic life in the Middle East.”
Romney continued by providing his objective on how the nation should address attacks such as this.
“Instead, we’ve seen in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events … we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Romney said. “We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is certainly not on the run.”
President Obama responded by reviewing his accomplishments over the last four years as commander-in-chief.
“My first job, Bob, is to keep the American people safe, and that’s what we’ve done over the last four years,” Obama said. “We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11, and as a consequence, Al Qaeda’s core leadership has been decimated. In addition, we’re now able to transition out of Afghanistan in a responsible way, making sure that Afghans take responsibility for their own security. And that allows us also to rebuild alliances and make friends around the world to combat future threats.”
With regards to Libya, Obama spoke about how his number one concern was to make sure that the Americans who were still in harm’s way would be secured.
“Keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were able to, without putting troops on the ground at the cost of less than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq, liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years,” Obama said.
According to CNN, throughout the debate, Obama sought to highlight his experience after leading the nation’s military and foreign policy efforts during his presidency. Romney, who has less foreign policy experience, expressed agreement with some of the administration’s steps in Syria, Iran and other hotspots.
John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent, stated that Obama won on points, but questioned if the results would have a big impact on voters and the race overall.
“There’s no question debate coaches would score this one for the president,” King said.
Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, agreed that Obama won on some points. However, he added that Romney showed the leadership style of a commander-in-chief to demonstrate that making a change in the White House would be safe.
According to the latest polls, Obama has a slight lead in Ohio, Romney is ahead in Florida and Virginia is a dead heat.
There are now exactly two weeks until Election day, and both candidates will spend that time campaigning in a few of the current swing states. According to CNN, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are on the road to events in Florida and Ohio for Obama’s “America Forward” tour, while the Romney-Ryan team is heading to Nevada and Colorado for additional campaigning.