With only 15 days until the election, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney faced off Monday for the third and final debate, which focused on foreign policy and national security. Obama and Romney sat together at a table at Florida's Lynn University, as moderator Bob Schieffer of questioned them on the Libya terrorist attack, the U.S. relationship with Israel, and the rise of China, among other international issues.
Though the tone was more civil than last week's town hall debate, both the president and the former governor of Massachusetts managed a few biting lines. "We can't kill our way out of this mess," said Romney, referencing Obama's oft-employed argument for his national security record: that he killed Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda-linked militants.
When Romney banged Obama on the shrinking size of the Navy ship fleet, Obama mocked the critique, responding, "Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed."
Zingers aside, many analysts point out that substantively, Obama and Romney do not differ much on foreign policy, at least when compared to their divergence on economic and social issues. Nevertheless, with the race as tight as it is—the two are essentially tied in many national polls—even the smallest shift in swing voters matters. Obama has not fully recovered from his disappointing performance in the first debate, despite a much stronger showing in the second. Romney, meanwhile, just needed to hold his own, as it is widely acknowledge that foreign policy is his weakest point, and his campaign has tried to make this election largely about the economy. Indeed, Monday's debate often veered towards fiscal issues, such as the trade deficit with China and cutting military spending to reduce the national deficit.
Who won the third presidential debate? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research