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Obama, Romney Weigh In on Foreign Policy in Final Debate

Date October 22, 2012

Mitt Romney, Bob Schieffer, President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney met in the third and final presidential debate Monday and discussed foreign policy, with Obama citing terrorism and Romney a nuclear-capable Iran as the greatest threat to national security.

The 90-minute debate, held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., featured the candidates sitting in chairs at a desk facing moderator Bob Schieffer. The candidates had similar views on several foreign policy issues, with Romney saying he supported Obama's action in Egypt, use of drone strikes, and a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan in 2014. Both men also said they would stand with Israel should it be attacked by Iran, and called nuclear armament in Iran "unacceptable."

But Romney, who supports increasing the military budget while Obama does not, had harsh words for what he dubbed the President's "apology tour" of the Middle East when he first took office and called the last four years a "wasted" opportunity to deal with Iran. Also, regarding threats in the Middle East, Romney told Schieffer, "I congratulate [Obama] on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in Al-Qaeda, but we can't kill our way out of this mess."

Second presidential debate: What did President Obama find "offensive"?

It was President Obama, however, who adopted a particularly combative tone in the conversation, telling Romney at one point, "You keep on trying to airbrush history," in regards to his economic policies. The President also snarkily referenced Romney's past comments that Russia is America's greatest foe. "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War's been over for 20 years," he said.

And, in reference to Romney pointing out that the U.S. Navy is smaller than it's been since 1916, Obama retorted: "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."

Here's a breakdown of the candidates' positions on some of the issues that were discussed:

On America's role in the world:

Romney: "The mantle of leadership for promoting the principles of peace has fallen to America. We didn't ask for it, but it's an honor that we have it. ... America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful. And those principles include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression [and] elections."

On increasing the military budget:

Romney: "We've got to strengthen our military long-term. We don't know what the world is going to throw at us down the road. ... We have to make decisions based on uncertainty."

Obama: "We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined. ... What you can't do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military's not asking for. ... Both at home and abroad, [Governor Romney] has proposed wrong and reckless policies. ... taking us back to those kinds of strategies that got us into this mess are not the way that we are going to maintain leadership in the 21st century."

On Iran:

Obama: "As long as I'm President of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. ... We've organized the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. ... The clock is ticking. If they do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to make sure they do not have a nuclear weapon."

Romney: "A nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable to America. ... I would tighten those sanctions."

Did you watch the debate? Who do you think won?

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