The third and last Obama-Romney 2012 presidential debate took place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22nd 2012. It was on foreign policy, moderated by Bob Shieffer of CBS News. It is the last time President Obama and Governer Romney will appear before tens of millions of Americans before the election on November 6th in two weeks.
Obama painted Romney as a clueless noob:
OBAMA: But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned 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 our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
“Horses and bayonets” quckly became the catchphrase of the debate.
Obama also took Romney to task for saying that Russia was still the biggest geopolitical threat facing America:
OBAMA: But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
Or as Colin Powell put it back in May: “Come on Mitt, think.”
Going into this debate Romney’s positions on Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Israel were almost the same as Obama’s. The main differences were on Afghanistan and Libya: Romney was destroyed on Libya in last week’s debate, while on Afghanistan he was suddenly cool with pulling troops out in 2014.
Romney had nothing left to hammer Obama with. On the stuff that Obama should be hammered on, like drones, Israel, Guantanamo and assassination of American citizens, he either agreed with Obama’s position or said nothing.
The most troubling thing about Romney’s foreign policy never became an issue: that most of his advisers are Bush-Cheney neocons, the very people who helped to get America into the mess in Iraq and who are, even now in 2012, banging the war drum against Iran.Nothing was said about global warming and little was said about the world beyond Russia, China and the Middle East. Both men are so pro-Israeli that you would think Israel was a swing state.
Foreign policy is so unimportant to this election that part of the debate was spent on the bail-out of the car industry, small businesses – and schools in Massachusetts.
Romney still claims that Obama went on an “apology tour” in 2009 in the Middle East and Europe. Either Romney is being a cynical liar or (just as likely) has little idea what an apology is.
Romney is also still trying to claim that he was for the government bail-out of the car industry even though in 2008 he wrote in his New York Times op-ed “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” that it was a waste of money.
The race is now so close that it will probably turn on who wins Ohio – a state which was helped by that very bail-out.
- Transcript of the debate
- Video of the debate
- ThinkProgress: Timeline of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy positions, 2011-2012
- Romney 2012
- Other 2012 debates: