Analysis of debate continues through election day

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Analysis of debate continues through election day

CBS

CBS

CBS

A rare moment of camaraderie between the two presidential candidates.

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The third and final presidential debate of the 2012 election focused on foreign policy. The candidates met in Boca Raton, Florida on Oct. 22, in a 90-minute encounter moderated by Bob Scheiffer of CBS. In marked contrast to their previous debates on the economy, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney found a great deal of common ground on issues like the American presence in Afghanistan and strong support of Israel. Obama came out of the gate aggressively, telling Romney his ideas have been “all over the map,” a phrase which he repeated several times over the course of the night. “Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney countered. Romney stated that one consequence of Obama’s presidency has been a smaller navy. He pointed out that naval officers like Admiral Gary Roughhead have stated that the bare minimum number of deployable ships should be 313. Currently, the Navy has 288. Obama countered sarcastically. “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.”

Even in a foreign policy debate, the candidates found a way to repeat their economic talking points. Obama opened the floodgates, proclaiming his intention to focus on “nation-building” at home. He skewered Romney for supposedly planning to give the military two trillion dollars in unrequested spending increases. Romney pointed out that the alleged hike actually simply means he would approve automatic military spending cuts under sequestration, which Obama agreed are a bad idea. Obama scored more points, but his zingers came at the cost of a presidential demeanor. His voice showed sarcasm, even contempt at times. Meanwhile, Romney appeared presidential and magnanimous, agreeing with Obama as often as he disagreed. In a college debate tournament, Obama probably would deemed the winner, but Romney came through with another strong performance as well, establishing himself even further as a legitimate alternative to the president.

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