President Barack Obama scored another big win against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the third and final presidential debate held in Boca Raton, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 22, giving the president a 2 – 1 win. If you add in Vice President Joe Biden’s win against Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate, the Democrats took three out of four.
The debate, moderated by CBS chief foreign correspondent Bob Schieffer, concerned America’s foreign policies. The debate was held on the 50th anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that Russia had missiles in Cuba. Since the debate concerned foreign policy, this was definitely a somber reminder that danger lurks close to home.
The candidates were more subdued and relaxed than in the previous debate, although Romney appeared a bit nervous and remained so throughout. Romney said both candidates had come from a “humorous event” and did not seem as hostile toward each other as in the past. Actually, the event was a non-partisan Catholic fundraiser that took place the previous Friday, where Romney and Obama took playful jabs at each other.
Schieffer’s first question concerned the Middle East, specifically Libya.
Gov. Romney’s response included congratulating the president on killing Bin Laden and for his efforts against al-Qaida, but followed with the statement, “We can’t kill our way out of this.”
Obama pointed out that he ended the war in Iraq, is in the process of transitioning troops out of Afghanistan and that thousands of Libyans support America’s policies.
When asked what he planned to do about the terrorist situation, Romney said he would “go after the bad guys and kill them,” which directly contradicted his previous statement. He added that he would help educate countries in the region.
The president pointed out that Romney had backed the war in Iraq and had recently said that the U.S. should still have troops there.
Referring to Romney’s recent statement that Russia was our greatest fear, Obama came up with the first zinger of the night. “The 1980s want their foreign policies back,” said Obama. He accused Romney of wanting to bring back the Cold War.
Romney’s biggest gaffe of the evening came soon after when speaking of Syria as Iran’s greatest ally, calling Syria, “Iran’s route to the sea.” In fact, Iran has its own coastline and does not border Syria.
Obama’s knowledge of the Syrian situation showed the most when he spoke of taking the time to assess who the US’s allies and enemies in the region were before arming people who might turn against us. Romney said he wants to arm the rebels immediately.
Both candidates agreed that Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East and that the U.S. will defend them if attacked.
The debate digressed into domestic issues and the same rhetoric both parties have been espousing throughout the previous debates, ending when Obama brought up Romney’s education policies during the time he was governor of Massachusetts. Schieffer attempted to bring the topic back to focus but finally allowed Romney a few seconds to defend his record.
On tax cuts and military spending, Romney defended his plan to cut 5 percent of the discretionary budget at the same time increasing the military budget. Obamacare would also be on the chopping block.
The president looked impatient, waiting to respond. Obama asked how Romney planned to pay for his plan, stating the Romney plan includes $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion to the military that hasn’t been asked for.
Romney’s reply that the military is shrinking and that the U.S. Navy has less ships now than it did in 1917 set up the zinger of the night for Obama.
“We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” said Obama.
He then sarcastically pointed out that “we now have these things called aircraft-carriers that planes land on.”
“Horses and bayonets” quickly became a viral phenomena. The phrase was tweeted more than 100,000 times in three minutes as well as quickly spawning its own websites and fan pages.
Romney accused Obama of apologizing for America when the president toured the Middle East shortly after his election four years ago.
Obama said that the “Apology Tour” as Romney called it, was the biggest whopper of this entire campaign. He said sanctions were in place in Iran while Romney was still invested with oil companies doing business with Iran.
Both candidates agreed Pakistan, though technically an ally, is a dangerous area and bears much scrutiny. Romney referred to Pakistan as, “uncivilized.”
Questions about China brought up Romney’s record of dealing with businesses that shipped jobs to China. Obama also challenged him on his record regarding the auto industry bailout saying that if “it was up to Mr. Romney we would be buying cars from China, not selling to them. “
Both candidates digressed again, arguing domestic issues before Schieffer interrupted and asked for closing statements.
Obama gave a heartfelt speech on his plans to make America the greatest nation on earth, bring manufacturing jobs home, improve education and seek new energy sources.
Romney promised to provide strong leadership, create 12 million jobs, and get people off food stamps.
Clearly an incumbent president has an edge when it comes to foreign policy, having spent four years attending briefings with the CIA, NSA and military advisers, and it certainly showed. Obama was much more informed and clear-sighted in his responses than Romney.
Whether or not the debates will make a difference in the Nov. 6 election is speculation. The polls still show Obama and Romney neck-and-neck but they are only a sampling of the general voting public.