Obama, Romney battle over foreign policy in final U.S. presidential debate

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 US presidential election candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took part Monday in their third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Florida. The topic of the debate was foreign policy and the candidates discussed the Arab Spring, Iran, and Mali, among other issues.

Barack Obama
Image: US Senate.
Mitt Romney
Image: Gage skidmore.

Mr. Obama criticised Mr. Romney's foreign policy positions as "all over the map". "Every time you have offered an opinion you have been wrong." "You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite the fact there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You said we shouldn't be passing nuclear treaties with Russia." Mr. Romney countered saying Mr. Obama had failed to take proper advantage of the Arab Spring: "I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership of al-Qaeda, but we can't kill our way out of this mess".

Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama was proposing military budget cuts. He said "the highest responsibility of the President of the United states ... is to maintain the safety of the American people, and I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars... That in my view is making our future less certain and less secure". Mr. Obama accused Mr. Romney of not properly understanding modern defense priorities. "You mention the navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of the military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines".

Cquote1.svg Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of the military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines". Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

Mr. Romney criticized his opponent for visiting the Middle East on an "apology tour", and said he would be tougher with Iran. "I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we've had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran and we should not have wasted these four years." Mr. Obama said he would stand with Israel against Iranian threats but added that the main national security concern was terrorist networks. He said his administration had focused on "those who actually killed us on 9/11" and said that under his leadership, "al-Qaeda's core leadership has been decimated". Mr. Romney said northern Mali had been taken over by "al-Qaeda-type individuals" .

Mr. Romney criticized China for "holding down artificially the value of their currency". He added "on day one, I will label them a currency manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs where they're taking jobs." Mr. Obama countered saying under Mr. Romney's policy America would be "buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China".

A poll, taken by CBS straight after the debate, indicated 53% of voters thought Mr. Obama had done better, while only 23% thought Mr. Romney had done better.

Both candidates now have plans for continued campaigning ahead of the election on November 6. Mr. Obama is to travel through Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada as well as appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in a two-day "America Forward Tour". Mr. Romney is to hold two joint rallies with his vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in Nevada and Colorado before going on to campaign in Iowa and Ohio. Mr. Romney's advisers said he would also consider making a speech on government spending and debt in the next few days.


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