Archive for Monday, October 22, 2012

Obama and Romney face off on foreign policy in final debate

October 22, 2012, 9:38 p.m. Updated October 22, 2012, 10:06 p.m.


— President Barack Obama sharply challenged Mitt Romney on foreign policy in their final campaign debate Monday night, saying, "Every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong." The Republican coolly responded, "Attacking me is not an agenda" for dealing with a dangerous world.

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Romney took the offensive, too. When Obama said the U.S. and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran to halt nuclear weapons development, the Republican challenger responded that the U.S. should have done more. He declared repeatedly, "We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran."

Despite the debate's stated focus on foreign affairs, time after time the rivals turned the discussion back to the slowly recovering U.S. economy, which polls show is the No. 1 issue for most voters.

They found little agreement on that, but the president and his rival found accord on at least one international topic with domestic political overtones — Israel's security — as they sat at close quarters 15 days before the end of an impossibly close election campaign. Each stressed unequivocal support for Israel when asked how he would respond if the Jewish state were attacked by Iran.

"If Israel is attacked, we have their back," said Romney — moments after Obama vowed, "I will stand with Israel if Israel is attacked."

Both also said they oppose direct U.S. military involvement in the efforts to topple Syrian President Bashir Assad.

The debate produced none of the finger-pointing and little of the interrupting that marked the presidential rivals' debate last week, when Obama needed a comeback after a listless performance in their first meeting on Oct. 3.

But there was no mistaking the urgency. The two men frequently sniped at one another even on issues where they agree, and reprised their campaign-long disagreements over the economy, energy, education and other domestic issues despite ground rules that stipulated the debate cover international affairs.

Obama and Romney are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. The final debate behind them, both men intend to embark on a final two-week whirlwind of campaigning. The president is slated to speak in six states during a two-day trip that begins Wednesday and includes a night aboard Air force One as it flies from Las Vegas to Tampa. Romney intends to visit two or three states a day.

Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.

On the Middle East, Romney said that despite early hopes, the ouster of despotic regimes in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere over the past year has resulted in a "rising tide of chaos." He said the president has failed to come up with a coherent policy to grapple with change sweeping the Middle East, and he added ominously that an al-Qaida-like group has taken over northern Mali.

Anticipating one of Obama's most frequent campaign assertions, Romney said of the man seated nearby, "I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaida. But we can't kill our way out of this. ... We must have a comprehensive strategy."

More than a half hour later, Obama returned to the subject, saying that Romney had once said it wasn't worth moving heaven and earth to catch one man, a reference to the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror attacks.

He said he had decided it was "worth heaven and earth."

Obama said he had ended the war in Iraq, was on a path to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan and has vowed to bring justice to the attackers of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last month — an assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

He also jabbed at Romney's having said during the campaign that Russia is the United States' No. 1 geopolitical foe.

"Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s," Obama said.

Obama was snippy after Romney, criticizing the administration's Pentagon budget, said disapprovingly the U.S. Navy has fewer ships than at any time since the end of World War I.

"I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them."

Romney offered unusual praise for Obama's war efforts in Afghanistan, declaring the 2010 surge of 33,000 U.S. troops a success and asserting that efforts to train Afghan security forces are on track to enable the U.S. and its allies to put the Afghans fully in charge of security by the end of 2014. He said that U.S. forces should complete their withdrawal on that schedule; previously he has criticized the setting of a specific withdrawal date.

The two men are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. The final debate behind them, they intend to embark on a final two-week whirlwind of campaigning. The president is slated to speak in six states during a two-day trip that begins Wednesday and includes a night aboard Air force One as it flies from Las Vegas to Tampa. Romney intends to visit two or three states a day.

Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.

Barring a last-minute change in strategy by one campaign or the other, Obama appears on course to win states and the District of Columbia that account for 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The same is true for Romney in states with 191 electoral votes.

The battlegrounds account for the remaining 110 electoral votes: Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Ohio (18) and Wisconsin (10).

The televised debate brought no cessation to other campaigning.

Obama's campaign launched a television ad in Florida that said the president ended the war in Iraq and has a plan to do the same in Afghanistan, accusing Romney of opposing him on both. It was not clear how often the ad would air, given the fall's overall focus on the economy.

Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Canton, Ohio, emphasized differences between the two candidates on the war in Afghanistan.

"We will leave Afghanistan in 2014, period. They say it depends," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, like everything with them, it depends. It depends on what day you find these guys."

Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, was in Colorado. "We are in the midst of deciding the kind of country we're going to be, the kind of people we're going to be, for a generation," he said.

Whatever the outcome of the final face-to-face confrontation, the debates have left an imprint on the race. Romney was widely judged the winner of the first debate over a listless president on Oct. 3, and he has risen in polls in the days since. Obama was much more energetic in the second.

Monday night marked the third time in less than a week that the president and his challenger shared a stage, following the feisty 90-minute town-hall-style meeting last Tuesday on Long Island and a white-tie charity dinner two night later where gracious compliments flowed and barbs dipped in humor flew.

At the Al Smith charity dinner, Obama previewed his all-purpose fallback to criticism on international affairs.

"Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden," he said, a reminder of the signature foreign policy triumph of his term, the death at the hand of U.S. special operations forces of the mastermind behind the terror attacks on the United States more than a decade ago.

The president and his challenger agreed long ago to devote one of their three debates to foreign policy, even though opinion polls show voters care most about economic concerns.

Growth has been slow and unemployment high across Obama's tenure in the White House. Romney, a wealthy former businessman, cites his experience as evidence he will put in place policies that can revive the economy.

In recent weeks, the former Massachusetts governor has stepped up his criticism of the president's handling of international matters, although his campaign hasn't spent any of its television advertising budget on commercials on the subject.

In a speech earlier this month, Romney accused the president of an absence of strong leadership in the Middle East, where popular revolutions have swept away autocratic regimes in Egypt and elsewhere in the past two years. He has also accused Obama of failing to support Israel strongly enough, of failing to make it clear that Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon and of backing cuts in the defense budget that would harm military readiness.

Yet Romney has stumbled several times in attempting to establish his own credentials.

He offended the British when he traveled to England this summer and made comments viewed as critical of their preparation for the Olympic Games.

Democrats pounced when he failed to mention the U.S. troops in Afghanistan or Iraq during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in late August, and officials in both parties were critical of his comments about the attack in Benghazi while the facts were unknown.


christie 5 years, 6 months ago

If you want to go forward put your car in (D) emocrat. If you want to go backwards put your car in (R) epublican.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

My car is a standard shift. Since I begin in "1", which looks an awful lot like an "I", for Independent, I guess that's the way I need to go. Or I can make an informed choice based on my values. Let me think about that for a while. Decided.

riverdrifter 5 years, 6 months ago

I wish all the three debates had been held with this format. Bob Schieffer did a fine job.

James Minor 5 years, 6 months ago

Tonights debate showed why Mitt should not be president. Once again he changed positions, hurried in his speech, lost focus, and shared heartfelt stories that even he didn't believe in. The EU was left out of the debate and is critical to our economy. Why was that not discussed is a shame.

Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

Time to strap on the ole bayonet, hop on the horse, and go find me some of them binders of women everyone is talking about.

Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

How is he out of touch, Jonas. He didn't say we have NO horses or bayonets. He said we had FEWER horses and bayonets. Capice?

Try again.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

The Army issued us bayonets too. In reality, they're only used for opening MREs. Obama's point was that the weapons of the past, for fighting wars of the past, are not what we need today and in the future.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 6 months ago

How can you really say more or less, JonasGrumby? I remember how Marines count.. "One" "Some" "A WHOLE S^*%pot FULL!" No math needed. That and the fact that every Marine I knew smoked about half his body weight every "Some" days. But maybe that was before your time.

Kyle Seiwert 5 years, 6 months ago

Talk about missing the point. Your insane commentary looks as bad as Crist throwing to wide open receivers.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow, you're really showing your age. The P-38 is a can opener. MREs don't have cans, and soldiers haven't had to deal with cans in many, many decades. You might want to catch up on modern technology - say, everything after 1980 or so - before you complain about Obama's lack of knowledge.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

Or that you're ignorant concerning modern warfare, Gramps.

Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe he is not old, but merely a liar.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

Carried one on my key ring once. Handy in a pinch.

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 6 months ago

Too bad you have slow learning skills! LMAO

You know damn well that is not a snarky remark and it was made to highlight the idiotic presentation Romney gave for wanting to spend 2 BILLION dollars more on defense budget when the Chief of Staff's have not requested it.

Romney is the one out of touch. The horse/bayonet comment was splendid and one viewers will remember well.

lunacydetector 5 years, 6 months ago

the past 4 years were run by a president with ADHD, always keeping us on our toes, never knowing what freedom or finances he wanted to claim romney's been all over the board was a projection of himself.

christie 5 years, 6 months ago

All over the board? I disagree. I think he's been quite focused. Remember when the economy was shedding 750,000 jobs a month? Remember when the DOW was at 4,000? Remember when the terrorists were running wild? The president has stopped the bleeding, whacked the terrorists and shown no quarter, and despite it all, the economy is coming back.

Kyle Seiwert 5 years, 6 months ago

Make sure you watch tonight's Daily Show. You clearly live on the Mountain.

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 6 months ago

When BO took office the Dow was around 8000 and now it's over 13000.

People need to look at their 401K's and 403B's to see how much better off we are today than 4 years ago.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

"..whacked the terrorists and shown no quarter..." Have you ever heard of a place called Benghazi? The terrorist killed an American ambassador there last month.

overthemoon 5 years, 6 months ago

Precisely what freedoms have you lost? And have you noticed your 401k or other investments have increased by something like 67%?

Mike Ford 5 years, 6 months ago

actually the tom arnold impersonator and republican chameleon and champion interrupter is the person with adhd. the fact that the bar is set so low for these republican simpletons says much about their base or the simpleton manning the gop booth at maple leaf in Baldwin City that took about three minutes to realize that I was calling her and her party racists yesterday. I mean will billyjoe don't take my gunz anti regulation from Worden, Kansas vote for the moderate Mitt who now supports regulation and parts of the Health Care Bill as a moderate and ignore the whole tea party mormanism is cult mindset just to vote against a Black Man who is the setting US President? Not racist at does mitt win with his mess of a political party demographically on anything else other than veiled racism?

Mike Ford 5 years, 6 months ago

it takes shallow people to not own the behavior of their own constituency and blame the people they offend with their simpleton actions and beliefs. You all have created a fictitious President Obama to run against and what's even worse is that your simpletons believe this nonsense.....that's why you all were laughed at by the incumbents in these debates.....if you ran on facts instead of nonsense who knows?

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Could Romney have agreed with Obama more? Obama was strong, consistent in his responses and properly presidential. Romney agreed.

Not Romney's best performance, and in the last half hour he had a sweaty upper lip. He looked nervous and out of his element. Romney was not strong, and it likely cost him the election.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

I will agree that Obama's first debate was poor and cost him dearly, but the majority of polls still show Obama in the lead in the necessary swing states. We will see how it goes soon. However, the idea that Obama is "done" is just silly, and sadly, you know this to be true.

Armstrong 5 years, 6 months ago

Mitt showed leadership. Barry talked about leadership

overthemoon 5 years, 6 months ago

How do you lead when most of your statements are wrong or out right lies? Just exactly where and what is he leading?

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

They were both wrong, lied to you all for a couple of hours, held your attention quite well, while more people died at the hands of our drone strikes, and your national debt continued to spiral out of control. The "debate" was a huge success.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

They're both puppet tools for corporations and bankers, and once again they've got everyone fired up over red and blue. Romney is a pathological liar and Obama is a huge hypocrite.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

--- Romney has been sending many a business and thousands of jobs to China since leveraged buyout opportunities got risky financing during the Reagan/Bush days till present.

--- Mitt Romney and his bailout bonanza. -

--- Has risky financing stopped? Not that I read. Wall Street Big Banks find many loopholes. --- I'm not sure the loopholes are legal.

--- These elected officials posing as republicans love those loopholes and despise regulations that protect the financial health of USA.

De-regulation is irresponsible and unethical. White collar crooks love the massive deregulation.

Where is the FBI and the IRS?

irvan moore 5 years, 6 months ago

i don't think a debate is going to change many minds, it seems as though we all tend to agree with whichever doctrine we started with, it would be a lot more interesting if they were hooked up to lie detectors with the results on the screen

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

Tonight there will be a debate between all of the rest of the presidential candidates, including my choice, Gary Johnson. These people have been shunned by the media for promoting ideas that run counter to the establishment. Vote for what you believe, not the lesser of two evils.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

90% of the voters have no idea they even exist. When polled head to head with Obama and Romney, Gary Johnson has a very favorable showing.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 6 months ago

I haven't seen any, and there's a couple good reasons for that. 1. There isn't much negative to say about a man who stands up for personal liberty and speaks a with refreshingly rational honesty. 2. Saying anything about Governor Johnson will create media attention, and once he has that media attention, his clear policies and rational demeanor will be exposed. He is a game changer, and the Republicans and Democrats do not want someone coming in and ruining their game of 'Screw the Citizens'.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

"Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s," Obama said.

Best line of the night.

overthemoon 5 years, 6 months ago

So easy to keep the low information voter entertained.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Glad to know you realize Romney didn't have the best line of the night.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow - I wonder if you can really believe that.

The social policies of the '50's included the lack of equality for women and black people, and the economic ones of the '20's led to the Great Depression. Big booms lead to big busts, as we've seen over and over again.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

ROMNEY: Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to -- to kill them, to take them out of the picture.

Yee Haw mittens! Reminded me of dumbya, only thing missing was the lariat.

tolawdjk 5 years, 6 months ago

I was waiting for the "And if you elect me Student Body President, I will make sure we get Yohoo! and Bugles back in the vending machines.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 6 months ago

Romney's statements about how our current navy is smaller than the navy in 1915, which was intended to be another attack on the current president, show a huge ignorance of military and naval tactics since WWI. Back then battleships lined up in the traditions of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and slugged it out, shot by shot.. The last great sea battle in this tradition was the Battle of Jutland in May of 1916 where the British and Germans fought it out in one of the last great sea battles of World War I. The Imperial Japanese Navy showed us that that sort of sea battle was obsolete on December 7 1941.

Romney is a clear example of Republican folly in his inept comments and positions.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

I am sure they want new fancy ones and they will get most of them. We probably need more carriers to keep an eye on China, but there won't be any more large set piece ground battles. There is no need with technology and communications.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 6 months ago

I would argue that military planners who know what they are doing should make these decisions, not some itenerate also ran (many times) "no military experience" candidate for Commander in chief.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 6 months ago

"We are not auditioning for fearless leader," Grover Norquist told conservatives at the CPAC convention in February. "We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate."

"Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared." - Grover Norquist

If you want to be elected by these Republicans you have to march in step with their leaders and sign whatever pledges they create and sign the model bills that come out of their corporate bill generator think tanks.

We have discovered that bloggers on this site actually work for the Koch Brother sponsored front groups and that would explain a lot of the baseless attacks on our President that have the singleminded goal of upsetting and confusing voters into allowing them to push their extreme agenda rather than adding anything of value in the way of finding solutions to problems faced by most Americans today.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

Norquist is interesting. Could be the most powerful person in America, if not the world. And all through blind ideology, lies and fear. Brilliant!

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