Obama and Romney will meet at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., at 9:00 pm EST on Monday. Bob Schieffer will moderate the debate, set to focus exclusively on foreign policy issues (mostly topics concerning the Middle East … yippee, something everyone isn’t tired of talking about when it comes to foreign policy). Schieffer will ask the candidates about the ongoing war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, changes in the Middle East, and future threats facing the nation.
The third and final presidential debate comes less than a week after the candidates met in the New York Town Hall debate, a “friendly Q&A conversation” with undecided voters that at times saw the candidates get testy and heated with one another.
The debate comes as Obama and Romney are in a statistical dead heat in national polling, with no clear frontrunner in election 2012.
The format of this debate is identical to the first presidential debate (which many believed was a consensus win for Romney). This time, though, it's expected that moderator Bob Schieffer will take a more active role than Jim Lehrer. Schieffer is known for asking questions that get his subjects to open up, as well as pressing on issues and getting to the bottom of vague or elusive answers. After last week's Town Hall debate, in which both Obama and Romney skirted answers without real intervention from Candy Crowley, it will be interesting to watch Schieffer hold them to a more direct answer.
There will be six specific topics at this debate, and fully two-thirds –– two-thirds! – are about the Middle-freakin'-East.
The Libyan attack which saw the assassination o f U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens is a weakness in the Obama foreign policy record that was debated effectively by VP candidate Paul Ryan in his debate against Vice President Biden, but Romney was unable to capitalize on the advantage passed to him by Ryan. Obama stated in December 2008 that he would keep his campaign promise to have all combat units out of Iraq within 16 months, or May 2010. The last combat troops, however, didn't leave until December 2011.
Recent polling after the attack in Benghazi has showed that the president’s approval on foreign policy has gone under 50% for the first time in his presidency.
The two candidates will be looking to give themselves some added momentum by absolutely #KillingIt in the final debate. Check in here to see how they do.
Final Presidential Debate:
Topic: Foreign policy
PolicyMic will be covering the final presidential debate in it's entirety. Check back here for all the latest analysis, polls, gaffes, news, zingers, thrills and spills. Bookmark and refresh this page for the most recent updates.
10:37 pm: The debate has come to a close. I have a feeling that the polls are going to call this one a draw if we're judging by style. That said, Twitter seems to think that Romney was the leader of the night. Judging by Twitter it's looking like the winner is Romney.
10: 31 pm: Closing statements are underway.
Romney: "This nation is the hope of the Earth."
10:25 pm: Is this the vibe of the night?
10:15 pm: I bet you $10,000 that Romney is going to bring up the deficit.
10:11 pm: Romney wants to: "Kill bad guys."
10:09 pm: Obama to Romney:
10:08 pm: Obama gives a shout out to Michelle's "great work." Dig it.
10:08 pm: Obama on the war:
"After a decade of war, it's time to do some nation building here at home."
10:06 pm: Live analysis from PolicyMic editor Chris Miles.
Unlike Mitt Romney, President Obama has a plan to do some nation building here at home. The President’s second-term agenda includes: using savings from ending the war in Afghanistan to rebuild our roads, bridges and highways here at home, creating good paying jobs in America by closing loopholes that help ship jobs overseas and creating new incentives to bring them home, investing in a skilled workforce for those good paying jobs by recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers and training 2 million workers at community colleges, cutting our oil imports in half, and reducing our deficits in a balanced way. Independent economists say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a plan to create jobs or reduce the deficit. His only plan for the next four years is a $5 trillion tax cut skewed to the wealthiest that he’s refused to say how he’d pay for – either he will increase the deficit or raise taxes on the middle class to make the math work.
10:04 pm: We're moving on to the "world's longest war."
"What do you do if the deadline arrives and it's obvious that the Afghans are unable to handle their security?"
9:58 pm: Obama's battleship comment:
9:55 pm: Obama says, "whopper." World thinks, "Whopper."
9:54 pm: Obama: "Nothing Governor Romney just said it true."
9:54 pm: Candidates are notably mum on the word "Palestine."
9:52 pm: Well at least they're back on the foreign policy track. Heavy talk on Iran now ... I do wonder how many Americans are really fully engaged in what these guys are saying tonight.
9:49 pm: What's trending on Twitter 50 minutes in? #RomneyNotReady and #AdmititMitt are high up there.
9:43 pm: Next meme of tomorrow: "We have fewer horses and bayonets."
9:42 pm: This debate has absolutely nonw of the fire of the second presidential debate ... quite honestly I don't think it has the fire of the first.
9:41 pm: I mean, honestly:
9:39 pm: Tomorrow's meme: "Let me get back to foreign policy."
9:37 pm: Schieffer tries to steer the debate back to foreign policy. ABOUT TIME.
9:35 pm: Obama is bringing it back to education policy.
9:34 pm: Romney keeps on hammering home on the economy ... I guess that's his way of avoiding the real conversation here.
9:30 pm: Interesting tid bit from Romney. In the 2000 debates there was no mention of military.
9:28 pm: Next question is what is America’s role in the world.
“America must be strong, America must lead, and for that to happen we have to have a strong economy here at home.”
9:26 pm: Sitting down is definitely far less menacing than the whole walk around.
9:21 pm: I like the evolution of the ties over the last three debates. We have moved into polka dots and stripes now. No more solids.
9:21 pm: Obama is doing what he can to pack a ton of attacks into one answer.
9:18 pm: Romney says removing Assad is a priority for him in Syria as well.
9:15 pm: Second topic question is on Syria. What should be done:
Obama: “Assad has to go.” Situation in Syria is “heartbreaking” but for us to get entangled in it is heartbreaking.”
9:14 pm: Yikes and the fighting has already begun. A little brawl going on about foreign policy.
9:13 pm: Romney to Obama: “Attacking me is not an agenda.”
9:10 pm: Obama to Romney: “The 1980’s are calling and asking for their foreign policy back.”
9:10 pm: Anticipating that Romney “wants to kill the bad guys” will be meme tomorrow.
9:03 pm: First section on a changing Middle East. First question is on Libya.
9:00 pm: And here we go!
8:20 pm: The president is psyching up his base via social media right now:
8:01 pm: What do you eat in debate prep?
7:53 pm: One hour and seven minutes to go.
7:46 pm: Romney in practice round:
7:25 pm: Stephanie Cutter is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama for America and she took a few minutes to do an interview with PolicyMic Pundit Edward Williams.
Edward: Why should millenials consider voting for President Obama, specifically as it relates to foreign policy?
Stephanie: What we have seen from the President is strong and steady leadership, a strong change from what we have seen over the previous decade. He has done what he said he was going to do. He has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he's going to use the savings from ending those wars to do some nationbuidling here back at home. It is a big piece of the second term agenda. He has also taken the fight to Al-Qaeda. He broke the back of Al-Qaeda and brought Bin Laden to justice and he has restored America's standing in the world. He has also made record investments in our veterans, which were to make sure that they can go to college, that there are jobs here when thy come home from fighting for us abroad, and that they're getting the healthcare that they need. So, the President has a very strong record of strong and steady leadership.
Edward: There is concern about the Middle East from the millenial generation, the region has been in turmoil in some way since our generation has been alive, does the President have a real plan to fix the structural violence in the Middle East?
Stephanie: Well, which country, they are all a little different. Let's take Syria. The President has committed to end the Assad regime in Syria. He's doing that through bringing the world together and enforcing the toughest sanctions that have ever been put in place in Syria. Assad is feeling the pressure of the sanctions and the President is also providing humanitarian assistance, resources, technological assistance to ensure that there is an end to that regime. He hasn't taken anything off the table, but he is doing everything he can to help that counry begin its transition to democracy. Same thing in Libya. He helped to provide the resources without committing our troops on the ground and assisted in that transisiton. While there was a terrible tragedy that occurred there on September 11th, that country has made progress. The President's approach to all of this is that there is a slow transition to democracy and we have to be there to help them do it. He's doing that in a way that protects our interests.
Edward: Stepping off of foreign policy for just a second.
Stephanie: But this is the foreign policy debate.
Edward: Yes, but we will likely have few opportunities to talk to the Obama team's deputy campaign manager prior to the election. There is a significant gender gap in the polls, some which show that President Obama has been slipping among women, what should that be ascribed to?
Stephanie: Well it depends on what poll you are looking at, every poll is a little bit different. There is an ABC poll coming out today that has us at a 14 point gender gap, we were only at 13 in the last election. There will be a gender gap on election day.
Edward: Yes, but what's causing the gender gap?
Stephanie: What's causing the gender gap is an agenda that actually moves women forward. The first bill that the President signed was a pay equity bill. The President passed healthcare reform which stops insurance companies from charging women more just because they have babies. He put an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, which is incredibly important to women. He has also made sure that they can make their own healthcare decisions, that we're not ceding it to any beaurecrat, particularly men. And, whether it's protecting Roe v. Wade, or ensuring they have access to contraception, all of this stands in sharp contrast to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney would not say if he would sign the Lily Ledbetter Act into law. He has promised to repeal healthcare reform, which puts the insurance companies back in charge. He wants to put bosses in charge of whether women have access to contraception. That's not an agenda that speaks to women and says I believe in you. He's taking from them and having a binder full of women is not a record of proof that you have helped women move forward.
Edward: One last question, how do you believe millenials should make their decision at the polls on election day?
Stephanie: Who do you want leading this country for the next four years? President Obama is a proven leader. He has steered this economy away from the worst crisis since the great depression. Now you probably don't remember the great depression, and I wasn't alive either, but we certainly know how turbulent it was, and we were on the brink of that. This crisis didn't happen overnight and we're not going to get out of it overnight. Just look at the progress that we've made: 5.2 million private sector jobs, highest consumer confidence in five years, the lowest number of foreclosures in five years, housing starts are up, and the economy is moving forward. This country is moving forward and it's no time to turn back. Just look at the agenda: 100,000 new math and science teachers so that we can compete for those high-skilled jobs that we can't fill right now. They're there, they are in this country, we can't fill them. He will cut in half our dependence on foreign oil, not only so we can increase our own security, but so that we can create new industry here in the United States. This is an agenda that builds our economy from the middle out. The last piece is reducing the deficit. I urge every young voter to look at both candidate's deficit reduction plan. The President has a detailed deficit reduction plan, 4 trillion dollars, that reduces our deficit in a balanced way. Cuts what we don't need, but makes important investments in education. He asks for everybody to pay their fair share. Mitt Romney doesn't have a deficit reduction plan. He has a 5 trillion dollar tax plan and he won't say how he'll pay for it. Mitt Romney in the Bain boardroom would not take that deal from anyone and neither should the American people.
7:03 pm: 4 Things to Watch for in Mittens Debate Performance:
"1) W. Mitt Romeny's Cowboy Diplomacy: As previously noted by this critic, Romney has been trying hard to disguise his close similarities to George W. Bush. But in foreign policy the temptation for Romney to play "cowboy" may be too much for him to pass down. Watch out for both obfuscation —and justification — of the roots of Romney's foreign policy in the failures of the Bush era.
Above all else, watch for this B-action movie script: In a dangerous world, where the United States has been led astray by Obama's "weakness," only one man has the courage to stand up for American principles: Mitt Romney.
2) Mitt doing some Clint Eastwooding: Like Clint Eastwood arguing with an empty chair, look for Mitt Romney to take the fight to a strawman tonight. He will argue that President Obama and his team are weak, that the horrific attack in Benghazi means that the President Obama's policy is a failure, and that the United States is not leading or shaping events.
Romney may have failed to notice, but President Obama hired someone to work day and night to shape world events to protect America's people and serve our interests and that of our allies. Her name is Hillary Clinton. She's tough as nails, and it's no act. And she serves a president who's withdrawn responsibly from Iraq, protected our homeland, gone after Al Qaeda ruthlessly, and shown tremendous judgement and character.
3) The Presence of Paul "Longshanks"Ryan: As this critic has noted, Paul "Longshanks" Ryan and his Republican colleagues are determined to de-fund American diplomacy — no matter the consequences. Will Romney stand up for his understudy's reckless quest to de-fund the State Department — including cutting embassy security and the resources for our response to the Arab Spring?
4) Mitt-Libs: Women in Binders? 47% of Americans called "takers" who — without ironically —still won't take responsibility for the their lives? Pets being strapped to the roof of cars?
This is the stuff that makes Mitt such a tremendous ad-liber — in both word and deed. What will we see tonight for Romney's encore?"
6:51 pm: New Poll Put Obama Ahead:
CBS just released a new poll which puts Obama ahead 48% to Romney's 46%.
6:47 pm: New York Times article says tonight's big question is who will emerge looking like a leader?
6:00 pm: PS Honey Boo Boo is voting for "Marack Obama."
5:56 pm: 3 hour countdown has begun. Excited?
5:36 pm: Very comprehensive timeline of the Benghazi situation. Check it out.
5:32 pm: Romney Debate Prep:
"Mitt's Body Man" tweeted out this image of he and Mittens in debate prep on the split screen in Boca Raton:
5:12 pm: Okay Donald Trump seriously needs to calm down:
5:09 pm: Romney's Approach to China is All Wrong:
"In the second debate, Romney told the American people he would call China on his first day as president and demand that they stop this unfair practice. Romney also stated he would cut down on China's pirating of U.S. technology. In a perfect world, it would be phenomenal for China to start playing by the rules. Mitt Romney has laid out that as president, he will crack down on China.
If Mitt Romney walked into the Oval Office on day one and called China demanding they stop de-valuing the yuan, he would effectively spark a trade war between the two biggest economies in the world. China is making too much money off of their current practices to have any incentive to change. Furthermore, the Chinese government owns a lot of U.S. debt they can easily dangle over our heads. Any type of enforcement by Mitt Romney (as president) to follow through on his promise would shock a fragile U.S. economy. Under no circumstance can either China or the U.S. afford to stop trading with each other — our economies are inextricably linked."
4:48 pm: Donald Trump is all over the map today. He claims to have a secret on the president and is non-stop tweeting. His latest tweet:
4:10 pm: Who is winning the Facebook "like" challenge? Obama ... by a landslide:
3:39 pm: I think I would be more interested in Mitt Romney as a man if he did this IRL:
3:35 pm: ICYMI
The New Yorker announced their support for Barack Obama. Shocker, I know. But a very interesting read.
3:23 pm: What do we need to hear from Romney tonight in order for him to set himself apart?
"Romney has not been able to adequately articulate an answer to that question. On other issues, Romney has offered clues but little substance. He has come out in favor of arming Syrian militias, but that plan poses serious risks, especially to our close ally Israel and its national security. He has talked tough on the issue of Iranian nuclear development, but so has Obama. He has tried to antagonize China, but Obama has already signaled a dramatic shift by redirecting our military focus strategically towards China in an effort to contain its power. He has accused Obama of alienating long-standing allies such as Israel, but would rather see our military and foreign policy be dictated by the will of a foreign dignitary."
2:45 pm: Word of the Night: Romnesia
2:29 pm: Does tonight's debate even matter?
According to James Hohmann at Politico, "A lot of coverage breathlessly talks about how pivotal tonight is. Obviously every debate matters, and ever small things can move the needle in a static race two weeks out. But we want to offer a reality check: the third debate historically makes the least difference, and foreign policy debates typically have mattered less than any others."
1:41 pm: What are the big issues the candidates will talk about?
From PolicyMic pundit Rebecca McCartney:
"In recent months, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has dominated global headlines which place a heavy burden on the candidates in tonight's debate. The range of issues that can be expected to be mentioned include the tragic death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Bengahzi last month; the implications of the Arab Spring; the continued operation in Afghanistan; the ongoing debate regarding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons; the relationship between the U.S. and Israel; this issue of drones and the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 are also likely to feature.
That is not to say other essential continents will be neglected: the war on drugs and immigration reforms in South America are likely to be brought up due to their pervasive impact on U.S. foreign policy. Relations will Russia and the Eastern European missile defense system may be a talking point given the prominence the right have afforded it. U.S. relations with China are also likely to feature strongly, as the economic and political relationship the two countries currently share is still not solidly defined.
Amongst these issues and country-specific topics, we can expect the candidates to pepper their answers with references to how they envision the role of the UN and NATO in America’s foreign conduct; the candidates’ stances on foreign aid; the defence implications of foreign policy including the status of Guantanamo Bay, the NDAA and defense spending amongst other key areas."
1:06 pm: Let's get this going America! Debate day is upon us. As the debate takes place in Florida, check out some information about the latest Florida poll numbers from a previously published article below:
Tonight, televisions will be turned on, live blogs updated, and Twitter feeds a-buzzing as President Obama and Mitt Romney face off in their third and final debate. The debate tonight, on the topic of foreign policy, will take place in Boca Raton, Florida, in the southern part of one of the race’s most coveted battleground states.
In this election, Florida has 29 electoral votes, an increase of 2 from its 27 electoral votes in 2012. Looking at the numbers for Florida, 23% of the states population is Hispanic, that's 4,253,000 people. As the candidates vie for the state, they know a huge percentage of their potential votes will come from this demographic. Hispanics in general, are concerned with the issues of immigration and often foreign policy as it relates to their country of origin. As we gear up for the debate tonight, a look at the polling numbers in Florida, and how the foreign policy questions will pave the way for a winner in the southern state.
When looking directly at Florida, according to RealClearPolitics, the state is a solid toss-up. The polls at Rasmussen tell a different story, showing Romney with 51% Florida support to Obama's 46%. A different polling system, Scripps-WPTV News, also puts Romney in the Florida lead with a smaller margin 48% to Obama's 47%. The poll shows that Romney leads among Hispanic voters 49% to 46%. Certain predominant Latino voting blocs in Florida lean Republican. Cuban-Americans, for example, are historically knwn to support the Republican candidates. Puerto Ricans are another predominant Florida voting bloc.
According to national polls, Obama leads on the issue of foreign policy. The president was the perceived winner on the Libya skirmish at last week's debate and he leads the foreign policy polls 51% to Romney's 42%.
As the candidates head to Boca Raton, there appearance tonight will not be as potentially meaningful as the last two debates. Though Hispanic voters often reject Romney's "self-deporation" idea, their are stronger, longer-lasting ties that could place him as the winner in the state of Florida.
Whoever wins, will be 29 electoral votes richer.