The third and final presidential debate before the November 6 election will focus on foreign policy, and President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney each need to show their competence with foreign policy issues while pointing out their opponent's inadequacies.
There will be huge pressure on Romney to perform well in the debate, particularly given his gaffe-filled international trip this summer and his recent fumbling regarding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. While Romney's attacks against the Obama recovery have been effective, his foreign policy criticisms have been far less clear and have often backfired. Alongside mounting an attack against Obama, Romney is in dire need of demonstrating his foreign policy competence.
The stakes are just as high for President Obama, but success for him will be measured differently — Americans already know that Obama has been tough on terrorism, but they are not quite clear on the specifics. Obama will need to highlight the administration's many foreign policy successes clearly and concisely will making the case that a Romney presidency would be disastrous for America's reputation abroad. We already seen a bit of this from the campaign: Two weeks ago during the vice presidential debate, Vice President Biden made the point that Obama alone repaired America's tarnished reputation with the international community following the tumultuous Bush years. This point will likely underscore Obama's larger message during Monday's debate.
Key topics will include diplomatic responses to Iranian nuclear ambitions and the effectiveness of economic sanctions against Iran, the Obama administration's initial response to the rebellion in Egypt, the recent terrorist attack that left the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead, and US-China trade relationships.
PolicyMic will be covering the Presidential Debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
10:30 PM – Short post-debate analysis to follow.
10:26 PM – Romney's did much better in the second half of the debate than in the first, but Obama was very much in control throughout.
10:25 PM – Solyndra Reference by Romney: Check.
10:20 PM – Obama's line about Romney's Chinese investments was a hit with the crowd I'm watching the debate with, but (full disclosure:) most of us here are Dems. What do independents think? Is it getting old or is it effective?
10:21 PM –
10:19 PM – Romney is very well versed on trade policy with China. He's picking up a bit but Obama doesn't look too impressed.
10:18 PM –
10:18 PM – I half-expected Romney to hit Obama from the left on drone strikes. Guess not.
10:15 PM –
10:15 PM – Obama's point that Al Qaeda is weaker than it was when he came into office registered very well on the CNN insta-poll.
10:11 PM – Yes Governor Romney, it has been widely reported that drones are used in drone strikes.
10:11 PM – Romney's point about Pakistan might be better taken if voters who are still undecided knew anything about Pakistan.
10:08 PM – Obama's just summed up what has been his take home point during this entire foreign policy debate: After a decade of war, it's time to do some nation building here at home.
10:01 PM – Obama to Romney: "I'm please that you're now endorsing our policy of diplomatic pressure...but just a few years ago you said that's something you'd never do."
9:56 PM – Obama's point about rallying the world around his policies against Iran are implicitly criticisms of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party's handling of foreign policy.
9:53 PM – Wondering how Obama will respond to the "apology tour" comment. UPDATE: "Everything Governor Romney has just said is not true."
9:50 PM – Obama thanks Romney for supporting his position on Iran, then points out that the administration started putting diplomatic pressure on Iran from the first day he took office. Romney's looking like he doesn't have anything new to offer.
9:48 PM – Romney is now saying that sanctions are definitely the right thing to do in Iran and that military intervention is the last resort. He has to say that though because obviously they're working. He did a great job clarifying his position concisely, but how many people believe that was his position last week?
9:43 PM – Obama responds to Romney's point that our Navy has shrunk: "Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets." The room just erupted in laughter. This joke is definitely in line with the campaign's attempts to paint Romney as out of touch and old fashioned. Remember the '1920s economic policy and 1950s social policy' comment from earlier? Very effective.
9:37 PM – I think Romney's point about education in Massachusetts is that he didn't mess it up while he was governor.
9:35 PM – Thank god Obama is finally bringing up education policy. Waiting for him to hit Romney on wanting to fire teachers.
9:32 PM – Obama's strategy of relating international policies to domestic nation building is pure gold. Romney's attempts at this are less polished.
9:28 PM – Romney sounds like he's just spewing talking points, but they are unfortunately not very good ones. Pres. Obama looks bored.
9:26 PM – Pres Obama just made an excellent point about nation building here at home, saying that America needs to lead by example, not just militarily.
9:25 PM – Pres Obama is calm, in control, and concise.
9:24 PM – JFK reference: check.
9:23 PM – Yup, called out by Obama. Romney's half smile has turned into a quarter smile.
9:23 PM – Wait did Romney just outline the Obama doctrine in Syria? What was he saying about arming rebel troops in Syria though?
9:19 PM – The stopwatch shows that Obama and Romney have spoken for the same amount of time so far, but Obama seems to have said so much more already. As soon as Obama starts talking the CNN "undecided voter insta-poll" rating goes up. Not so when Romney takes his turns. Those measurements are obviously very flawed but it does tell us that Obama is commanding the audience very well. Same here at Harvard.
9:14 PM – Romney seems very flustered. People around me (students in Lowell House at Harvard) are responding really well to Obama, giggling at Romney's responses.
9:13 PM – Romney is trying to clarify comments he made about Russia being our geopolitical foe.
9:11 PM – Obama: "Every time you have given an opinion you've been wrong."
9:10 PM – Obama: "Governor Romney...the 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back." And then he slams Romney for also having social policies from the 1950s and economic policies from the 1920s. Obama is very very comfortable here.
9:09 PM – Obama to Romney: "Your strategy is one that has been all over the map."
9:06 PM – Obama's response on Libya was strong. His bit about "liberating" for less than what we spend in two weeks in Iraq seemed to resonate with undecided voters on CNN's live tracking