Presidential Debate Format: What Time is Debate Tonight, Presidential Foreign Policy Debate Topics


On Monday night, the ultimate brawl in foreign policy of 2012 will take place in Boca Raton, Florida, with President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney facing one another in their final matchup in the 2012 presidential debates. The focus of this debate will be on an array of foreign policy issues with an emphasis on the U.S. role in the Middle East. The debate will start promptly at 9:00PM EST.

The 6 Rounds of the Brawl

Bob Schieffer, the moderator for this debate, has chosen six topics, which are split into two sections with the first five topics in the first section and the remaining topic for the entirety of the second section. These topics will appear in the following order.

1) America’s role in the world

2) Afghanistan and Pakistan 

3) Red Lines – Israel and Iran

4) The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism — Part 1

5) The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism — Part 2

6) The rise of China and tomorrow’s world

It's worth noting that the majority of the topics are focused on the Middle East, which leads to the question: Is this debate too focused on the Middle East at the expense of other regions of the world?

The answer is: No, the debate is split into two parts and the Middle East will likely be just the primary topic for the first half or so. The Middle East is the hotbed of U.S. foreign policy right now — in spite of the "pivot" towards Asia. Therefore, the debate is designed to get this out of the way first and then move to the U.S. interests in Asia and beyond.

Questions to Keep in Mind

Before watching the debate, it may be a good idea to go into the debate with some questions in mind. Foreign Policy Magazine has published an excellent list of questions from experts and politicians from every spectrum and from all other the nation.

Here's a sample of the questions:

Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House: The Chinese are crowding Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam with territorial demands. How would you respond?

Joesphy Nye, Professor, Harvard University: Governor Romney, in your book No Apology you extol the importance of American soft power. So far, so good. But then you attack Big Bird, an exemplar of American soft power. Why? Did you forget?

Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First: President Obama, do you still intend to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay? If so, how?

Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco: Is America's exercise of soft power linked to its economic wellbeing at home?

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch: The world over, the Internet has been a vehicle for freedom, enabling people to mobilize and press their government for democratic change. Yet in China, the government is insisting that American Internet companies help it censor the Internet as a condition of doing business there.  Today, these companies are alone in standing up to Beijing. What will you do to help them?  Would you endorse a law prohibiting American Internet companies from participating in any Chinese censorship efforts?

Who's Best Suited to Lead?

Michael Shear of the New York Times said it best when he argued that "leadership" is the primary issue at hand tonight. Both the Obama and Romney Campaigns have issued memos that acknowledge this basic measure as the basis of determining who wins and who loses in the third and final debate tonight.

Who has the ideas and character to lead America out of its economic crisis and guide it as one of the great powers of the 21st Century? Obama? Romney? Please read my Live Blog during the debate!

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