Who Won the Debate Tonight: President Obama


Monday night’s debate will focus on questions relating to foreign policy, and will begin at 9pm ET/8pm CT (4am in Beirut). The third and final debate will take place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and will be moderated by Bob Schieffer. This will be a critical moment for the candidates as foreign policy concerns such as Iran, Syria, and Libya, have taken the spotlight in international affairs a with little over two weeks until the elections. 

American foreign policy often gets a bad reputation regardless, but presidential election rhetoric can shift foreign policy into more dangerous territory in order to serve American ideological interests.  The candidates should be able to demonstrate that they can recognize the opportunities to adopt lawful and respectful polices, as well as being capable of balancing the limits of America’s power and influence.

Tonight’s topics are expected to include, improving American foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia, America’s role in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Iran, the rise of China as a global player, and the U.S. budget, the U.S. military, and threats of terrorism.

Some important things to watch for at tonight:  How will the candidates deal with Iran, Syria, and Libya, without making things worse? Are President Obama and Governor Romney carefully analyzing the realities of these situations? Or are they delivering customary references to American power? Overall, can the candidates deliver strategic thinking in this discussion?

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live.  For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.

UPDATE: Check out this interactive map from the Economist on the latest polling statistics heading into the debate: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/10/us-election-2012


UPDATE: Fact-checking from last night:


"Who won the presidential debates? Well, Bob Scheiffer gets my vote as best moderator...#debates"

— T. Boone Pickens (@boonepickens) October 23, 2012


UPDATE 11:30pm CT:

Final Thoughts

It is safe to say that Obama edged Romney tonight to win the third and final policy debate, but the pundits and analysts seem to agree that neither candidate was impressive. The lack of a “foreign policy” debate was highly disappointing, and much of the focus shifted back to domestic policy and the U.S. economy.  During this debate America witnessed a lack of shining moments, and no real debate on the realities of the changing Middle East.

However, the debate reflected the true foreign policy stance of the United States in the Middle East: appease our allies, appease our allies, and appease our allies. Neither Obama nor Romney mentioned the regimes and political structures of the Middle East, and how America will be able to adapt to the changing trends and dynamics in the region. Obama criticized Romney for his ideas of bringing the United States back to the policies used during the Cold War, and Romney criticized Obama's policies accusing him of not being able to stop extremism and fundamentalist groups from spreading further in the region. Neither candidate addressed the reasons of why such fundamentalist groups are growing larger and widespread, who is responsible, nor how America should implement its influence to encourage the spread of a true democratic process in the Middle East.

Other than the former, both candidates made it very clear that the military option was not an option, except with Romney’s regards to Israel, Iran is a security threat, and China was demonized, etc. The real debate should have been about how to revive America’s relevance in the region, without worsening the situations in the Middle East. Whoever the real winner is in the polls, it seems that the American public missed out on a worthy foreign policy discussion.

UPDATE 9:30pm CT:

Concluding arguments that have NOTHING to do with foreign policy!

Obama: I don't want to move backwards.  I want to develop energy sources, cut our deficit spending, and invest in research and technology.  We need to do some nation-building here at home.  "I will listen to your voices, fight for your familes; America is the greatest on Earth."

Romney: We have the opporitunity to have real leadership. I want to promote peace, keep the economy going, America is going to come back, but Washington for now is broken. "This nation is the HOPE of the earth, we need strong leadership, and I'd liked to do it with your support."

UPDATE 9:21pm CT

Both Obama and Romney are embarassing themselves while attempting to address China's growing economy. #Missing the point of the question.

UPDATE: 9:15pm CT

Romney: Not divorcing a nation that has 100 nuclear weapons.  This is an important part of the world for us, and we need a comprehensive and grand strategy to address the Islamic world.

Obama: There will always be groups that threaten our security, we have to remain vigilant. 

UPDATE: 9:10pm CT

"The biggest National Security threat is a nuclear Iran." Governor Romney

UPDATE: 9:00pm CT

Romney: Let's not do hypotheticals.  (It was said early on that it is important for us to think ahead?)

UPDATE: 8:56pm CT

Obama denies US-Iran bilateral talks.

UPDATE: 8:50pm CT

Indict in what court? US is not part of International Criminal Court?

UPDATE: 8:45pm CT


[Insert somewhere in here where they should be talking about the Middle East]

UPDATE: 8:30pm CT

Obama: No regrets about asking Mubarak to step down.

UPDATE: 8:15pm CT

Romney: I'm going after the bad guys: Syria is an opportunity, especially because it is Iran's only Arab ally in the region.

UPDATE: 8:00pm CT




UPDATE: 7:15pm CT

Key points to Keep in Mind Tonight:

In a little under 45 minutes, Obama and Romney will begin their final debate focusing on issues of foreign policy. A majority of the debate will focus on the Middle East.

Before we begin bashing either candidate on their Middle East foreign policy credentials, it is important to keep in mind that rhetoric is rhetoric. What we need to be listening for in the final presidential debate are clear prescriptions and specific policy proposals.

Regardless of what is said, American foreign policy in the Middle East will remain strictly devoted to the policies and fears of Israel, and maintaining the existing rulers in the oil-producing countries that don’t disrupt our ideological interests. 

America cannot provide a Middle East and South Asia antidote, as it is clearly overextended financially, and militarily, and even diplomatically. What we need to hear is how each candidate can deliver what they promise, while understanding that much of what is taking place in the Middle East is a result of the dynamics and trends evolving in the region itself. 

Anti-Americanism is not limiting U.S. influence in the Middle East. But what is damaging is the evidence linking U.S. foreign policy and American values. Outcomes cannot be dictated; the United States needs to be aware that people in the region are becoming increasingly aware of their own power in politics. 

National polls show Obama and Romney are tied in the polls. This is Romney’s last chance to display his knowledge on foreign policy, as many ‘gaffes’ have seemed to  fuel criticism of his judgment and lack of experience in the foreign policy realm. 

On the other hand, Obama will have to defend his four years of foreign policy in office and refute criticism relating to the events in Libya, Syria, and Iran’s nuclear program. As pundits have given Romney a slight win in the first debate, and the same to Obama in the second, America will clearly be watching for an overall winner from all three debates tonight.