Obama, Romney Debate
Range of Foreign Policy Issues
October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney,
traded jabs over a range of foreign policy issues Monday in their third
and final debate of the 2012 U.S. president campaign. The debate was
held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
There were fewer interruptions and sharp exchanges in this debate, the
candidates perhaps mindful of not coming across as too negative.
Biggest US threats
But at times the debate did produce a clash of worldviews between
President Obama and Romney, including an exchange on the biggest threats
facing the U.S.
“Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaida’s a threat
because a few months ago when you were asked what is the biggest
geo-political threat facing America, you said Russia,” said Obama.
“That we are talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle
East reject the kind of terrorism we are seeing and the rising tide of
tumult and confusion, and attacking me is not an agenda,” responded
But on U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons
capability the two men seemed more in agreement than not.
The president defended his emphasis on sanctions to isolate Iran. “As
long as I am President of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear
weapon," Obama stated. "I made that clear when I came into office. We
then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions
against Iran in history and it is crippling their economy.”
Romney has been critical in the past, but was less so in the debate.
“I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is if I’m
President of the United States, when I’m President of the United States,
we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their
back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily,”
On the uprising in Syria and the issue of whether there should be any
U.S. military intervention to help the rebels, there was some common
ground as well.
“For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step,”
“And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there," Romney
added. "We don’t want to get drawn in to a military conflict.”
There was a difference of opinion on relations with China, Romney
talking a tougher line even as Obama spoke of his actions against
Chinese tires and steel.
“China is both an adversary but also a potential partner in the
international community if it’s following the rules,” stated Obama.
“That’s why on Day One I will label them a currency manipulator," Romney
noted. "Which allows us to apply tariffs where they are taking jobs."
the debate, both candidates sought to link foreign policy questions to
the strength of the U.S. economy.
“We’ve now begun to make some real progress. What we can’t do is go back
to the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first
place," stated Obama. "That’s why we have to move forward and not go
“I couldn’t agree more about going forward but I certainly don’t want to
go back to the policies of the last four years. [There are] 23 million
Americans still struggling to find a good job,” said Romney.
With two weeks to go until Election Day, two new national polls this
week show the presidential race is a virtually a dead heat.