President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney turn to foreign policy in their last face-off

Last-chance debate unveils presidential nominees’ views on foreign policy

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pass each other after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

by Artur Tofan
National Editor 

President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney met for a final political face-off on Monday, October 22, 2012, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida–a key swing state–as opinion polls show their battle for the White House has tightened to a dead heat.

With 14 days to go until the November 6 election, the two candidates turned to foreign policy for their third and last chance to debate before the nation, present their arguments, and close the deal.

The two presidential nominees began with Libya and stayed in the Islamic world for almost the entire evening. The two talked about supporting Israel, pressing Iran more to stop its nuclear program, aiding Syrian anti-government rebels, and “divorcing” Pakistan.

However, both candidates agreed that their priority would be to keep the American people safe while championing peace.

“After a decade of war it’s time to do some nation building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources, to put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools,” said Obama when asked about his position on United States’ role in the world.

Building on a similarly pacifist tone, Romney stressed that “people tend to vote for peace. They don’t vote for war. So we want to promote those principles around the world. We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world.”

And of course it all came back to the economy and the country’s crippling deficit. Both candidates pledged to rebuild the economy at home. “We have to strengthen our economy here at home. You can’t have 23 million people struggling to get a job. You can’t have an economy that over the last three years keeps slowing its growth rate. We have to get our economy going,” said Romney.

On the other side of the isle, Obama stressed that key to moving the economy forward is to invest in education: “What I now want to do is to hire more teachers. If we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of support that is needed for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly skilled workforce.”

The presidential debates have been particularly consequential this year. More than 60 million viewers watched each of the previous two debates and, close behind, nearly 60 million viewers watched the third presidential debate.

Mitt Romney’s strong performance in Denver on October 3 helped him shift the electoral opinion, closing the polls gap between the two presidential contestants. President Obama rebooted for their second face-off and gained extra points for–what many political analysts have called–a strong come back.

With the Oval Office at stake, this final debate was the last best chance for both candidates to leave voters with forward-looking details they can take home, before they head to the voting booths to make their decisions.

And with the polls tangled in a tight knot and millions of votes on the line, it will be a battle to the finish.

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