With 12 days left before the election, the presidential candidates went toe-to-toe on foreign policy in the final debate on Monday Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer served as moderator.
In terms of foreign policy, both Obama and Romney said that they agreed on a number of issues. Obama used this fact to bolster his administration’s record.
“There have been times … during the course of this campaign where it sounded like you thought that you would do the same things we did, but you would just say them louder and somehow that would make a difference,” Obama said.
President Barack Obama also said that former Gov. Mitt Romney proposed irresolute policies and that Romney is “all over the map” on a range of issues.
Both candidates voiced explicit support for Israel, including U.S. military intervention in the event of an attack. Both candidates, however, said they were against military interference in Syria.
“For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping,” Obama said, adding that the country cannot “put arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or our allies in the region.”
Romney said that “America has the responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful,” while Obama called America the “one indispensable nation” adding that he feels America is stronger than when he entered office. Romney said that Obama concentrates on personal attacks rather than issues of policy.
“Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney said. “Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East and take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence.”
Obama addressed Romney’s assertion that it was not worth it to “move heaven and Earth to get one man,” in reference to the pursuit and subsequent killing of Osama bin Laden.
“If we had asked Pakistan [for] permission, we would not have gotten him,” Obama said.
Romney said that he commends Obama’s successful campaign to seek justice against the al-Qaida leader, but said that he has different plans for the future.
“We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Romney said. “We’re going to have to put in a very complex and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world reject this radical, violent extremism.”
Both candidates said that they advocate for cracking down on China, Romney shared his plan to label China a “currency manipulator” on day one, should he be elected.
Further, Obama said that Romney wants to “import the policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s.”
Obama went on to address what he saw as Romney’s take on the workings of the military.
“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,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them.”
Though the topic was foreign policy, the candidates added a number of comments regarding the economy, with Romney reiterating his five-point plan as the key to securing a stronger economy, thus a stronger world power.