(Photo credits: Associated Press, DeAndre McDay)
(Photo credits: Associated Press, DeAndre McDay)

By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor

On Monday, October 22, at 9pm, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama faced off in the third and final presidential debate focusing on foreign policy and non-domestic issues, hosted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and moderated by Bob Schieffer.

Who do you think will win the 2012 presidential election?

  • Barack Obama (52%, 119 Votes)
  • Mitt Romney (44%, 100 Votes)
  • Other (4%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 227

The debate began with discussion of terrorism and “Muslim extremism” in the Middle East, particularly the recent violence in Libya. Topics covered included “opportunities” in the Middle East, war in Syria, the troops in Afghanistan, and even Russia being, according to Romney, “our number one geo-political foe.”

Both agreed the Syrian President Bashar Assad has to go. Romney stated he “did not want to be drawn into a military conflict” as far as the war in Syria was concerned, but advocated for arming the Syrian insurgents. Obama stressed “steady, thoughtful leadership” in all matters concerning the Middle Eastern region. He also brought up the education and protection of women in the region.

“These countries cannot develop if young women are not given the kind of education they need,” said Obama.

The debate then turned to how the current foreign policy affects the American homefront, specifically employment, energy, and the economy. Romney argued that US global influence has weakened in the past four years, bringing about negative economic consequences.

“We have to stand with our principles, stand with our allies, stand with our military, and stand with our economy,” said Romney.

Both candidates continually returned to domestic problems that have been frequently discussed in the last two debates. Obama again brought up reforming the American educational system and the hiring of more teachers, “especially math and science.” Romney enumerated his balancing of the budget, stressing the repealing of Obamacare and the increasing of funding to the military. Schieffer tried to bring them back, saying “Let me get back to foreign policy. Can I just get back to foreign policy?”

Eventually the conversation turned to Israel, which both candidates supported as an ally. Both also agreed on keeping Iran away from nuclear weapons. Romney asserted that the past four years have been “wasted,” and that Iran is closer than ever to being nuclearly armed. Obama’s “Apology Tour” was brought up by Romney, something Obama called the “biggest whopper” Romney has told during the campaign.

Pakistan and Afganistan were finally brought up about an hour into the debate. Obama discussed the importance of removing the troops from the Middle East, but stressed the rehabilitation of US veterans back into the American workforce and population, including employment and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “After a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.” Romney again focused on “moving away from terror.”

Near the end of the debate, the discussion turned to China. “We can work with China,” said Romney. “They don’t have to be an adversary.” Currently, America owes China over a trillion dollars. Obama countered with “My attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else.” The President cited that US exports have doubled since he came into office, and that America is asserting itself as a Pacific trade power.

One of the most controversial quotes of the night was Romney referring to himself as a “son of Detroit” when the topic of domestic and foreign business investments were brought up. “The people of Detroit do not forget,” countered Obama, reminding the audience of Romney not supporting the auto industry bailout during the recent economic recession and claiming that Romney was “airbrushing history.”

The candidates ended by turning the debate back to domestic problems, rather than reiterating the major points of their foreign policies.

Ultimately, both candidates continually returned to who will make America stronger. The November 6th election will reveal who Americans believe is up to this challenge.