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Who Won the Presidential Debate: Obama Wins the Last Presidential Debate, As Romney Crashes and Burns

Obama vs Romney, round 3. And this time it’s personal.

The two candidates 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).

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 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.

Expect Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, his questionable response to the Syrian uprising, the drone attacks in Pakistan, diplomatic relations with Egypt, the impact of the Arab Spring and his administrations relationship with Israel vis-à-vis Iran’s quest to secure and develop nuclear weapon capability to be covered extensively.

Iran and its nuclear program will get exceptional airtime, especially in the wake of a New York Times report that the Obama Administration has tentatively agreed to one-on-one negotiations with Iran.

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.

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 debat. In order to “win” that debate, each candidate will need to touch on the issues that are most important in the mind of the American voter.

Should be a good one. Get your popcorn ready.

Live stream here: 

PolicyMic will be covering the final presidential debate in its 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.

LIVE UPDATES: 


10:47 pm: Who won the presidential debate tonight: For everyone who criticizes presidential debates as shallow and devoid of real policy analysis, this debate was the answer. Foreign policy is all theoretical. In order to "win" a foreign policy debate, you have to have a thoughtful international relations strategy. The candidates were talking about some big issues ... some really mind-numbingly complex issues ... including national sovereignty, the role of America’s military arm, the place of democracy, the right time for intervention, how capitalism should be involved in peace making, will/ can the Middle East be democratized … these are all very deep questions.

But the candidates really just blah'd through it all, giving answers that often contradicted what they not only said before in this campaign ... but also what they said 5 or 10 minutes earlier in the debate. Both Romney and Obama seemed lost in the policy muddle of it all. 

10:37 pm: 

10:25 pm: Tonight, President Obama outlined his commitment to supporting our troops overseas and veterans when they come home. Mitt Romney said he wanted to increase Navy shipbuilding, and complained that it had fewer ships than in 1916. Under President Obama, the U.S. Navy is the strongest it’s ever been.

“The sequester is not something I proposed, it is something Congress proposed.  It will not happen.  The budget we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending, it’s maintaining it, but I think Governor Romney hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.  

“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916.  Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed.  We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them, we have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines, and so the question is not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s what are our capabilities.  

“And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith in our troops that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home, and that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you’re putting forward because it just doesn’t work. We visited the web site quite a bit, and it still doesn’t work.” – President Barack Obama

10:23 pm: Mitt Romney has a long history of bluster when it comes to threatening war with Iran, but his history hardly matches his rhetoric.  While President Obama has put the toughest sanctions on Iran in history, which are crippling the Iranian economy, Romney has held investments in Chinese and Russian oil companies that were doing business with the Iranian energy sector. 

The Iranian Rial Has Lost 80% Of Its Value Since The End Of 2011 Under The Pressure Of US And International Sanctions. “The [Iranian] currency has reportedly lost 80% of its value since the end of 2011. The fall suggests economic sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme are hitting economic activity ever harder… Iran is all but frozen out of the global banking system as a result of largely US-led sanctions designed to discourage what it says is Iran's attempts to build a nuclear weapon.” [BBC, 10/1/12]

US And International Sanctions Have Pushed Iranian Oil Production “To Its Lowest Level For More Than Two Decades. “Iranian oil production has plunged to its lowest level for more than two decades because of the impact of US and European sanctions, the International Energy Agency has said in a report that highlights the effectiveness of the sanctions. The IEA, the western countries’ energy watchdog, on Friday said Tehran produced just 2.63m barrels a day in September, the lowest level in nearly 23 years and down from 2.85m b/d in August. Over the past year Iranian oil output has fallen by more than 1m b/d, hitting the country’s economic stability. Crude oil is Iran’s economic lifeline and the drop in production, exports and revenues has precipitated the collapse of the Iranian rial against the US dollar.” [Financial Times, 10/12/12]

10:17 pm: Predator drone strikes kill 50 civilians for every 1 terrorist, and the CIA only wants to up drone warfare ... PM Pundit Robert Taylor reports.

10:12 pm: Romney Hasn’t Said What He’d Do Differently In Syria Aside From Sending Heavy Weaponry And Increasing Our Involvement There: Obama has made it clear that it is time for Syrian President Assad to go, and he has taken responsible steps to support the Syrian opposition and the aspirations of the Syrian people by providing assistance to the opposition. All Mitt Romney has offered to date, however, is reckless bluster. He’s criticized the President on Syria, but he hasn’t said what he’d do differently, except to suggest that he’d send heavy weaponry there, getting us further entangled in another Middle Eastern conflict.

10:10 pm: Should we divorce Pakistan: Romney says no because they have dozens of nuclear weapons ... but then again he says we should be excessive with other nuclear or soon-to-be nuclear states like North Korea, Iran, and Russia. #Hipocrisy.

10:09 pm: As many observers have noted, Romney has yet to lay out any clear vision on foreign policy, while making basic geographic mistakes about the Middle East. That’s the last thing we need in a Commander in Chief. See what others are saying so far:

Michael Hastings ‏@mmhastings No more "bayonettes and horseback"--Obama line for the win, and of the night.

rolandsmartin ‏@rolandsmartin "We're doing exactly what we should be doing." Romney is getting out classed and blown away right now, folks.

Erin McPike ‏@ErinMcPike Half hour in and Romney is looking mighty uncomfortable. A little halting, back to talking points. Obama seems to be enjoying this.

Josh Barro ‏@jbarro Romney is in the odd position of insisting the president is screwing up foreign policy while proposing an essentially similar foreign policy

Robert Wright ‏@robertwrighter am i just biased or is obama's demeanor more commander-in-chiefish than mitt's?

Arianna Huffington ‏@ariannahuffRomney citing Ahmadinejad on US economic policy. There must be better sources.

Jonathan Capehart ‏@CapehartJ SPOILER ALERT: Romney argues with the moderator.

Nicholas Kristof ‏@NickKristof Romney's pants are on fire when he talks about budget.Arithmetic fails. And he wants to spend 4% of GNP on military!

David Gregory@davidgregory Obama - all over the map means America is less safe. President making clear he’s actually been commander in chief. #NBCPolitics

Alex Wagner@alexwagner I really dont understand Romney's foreign policy positions. On almost anything.

Jonathan Cohn ‏@CitizenCohn Romney talking about debt as a threat, then calls for more defense spending. Yeah, no connection there. None at all.

Larry Sabato ‏@LarrySabato Romney is a bit nervous & overeager w/memorized facts. Needs to settle down.

Zeke Miller @ZekeJMiller Romney is letting Obama run the table on this answer

@TheFix That was some rambling by Romney....#lynndebate

Ashley Parker @AshleyRParker By the third debate, Romney has gotten pretty good at filibustering the moderator. #debates

10:03 pm: Obama throws Biden under the bus to get re-elected. Well done, Mr. President.


The candidates were talking about Osama Bin Laden and Obama said that Romney, like Biden, always said we shouldn't go after OBL in Pakistan. Obama basically said he had the balls to do what everyone else wouldn't do. Point Obama. 

10:02 pm: 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 pm: Romney: "I see our influence in the world receding." 

9:56 pm: Mitt Romney thinks proposing $2 trillion in new military spending the Pentagon hasn’t asked for makes him sound tough – but it’s just irresponsible. Romney has no plan to pay for the new spending, just like he can’t pay for his $5 trillion in tax cuts favoring the wealthy without raising middle class taxes.

9:55 pm: Romney and Obama are both BSing their way through this debate, but Romney seems to be explaining more clearly and with more conviction his views of foreign policy. 

9:52 pm: As President Obama just said, Mitt Romney would take us back to the foreign policy of the 1980s, social policy of the 1950s, and economic policy of the 1920s. President Obama’s policies would build on the progress of the last four years and move us forward, not back.

ROMNEY CALLED RUSSIA OUR “NUMBER ONE GEOPOLITICAL FOE” THOUGH REPUBLICANS DISAGREED

JULY 2012: Romney: “There's No Question But That In Terms Of Geopolitics… Russia Is The Number One Adversary.” [Situation Room, CNN, 7/30/12]

JUNE 2012: Romney Agreed Russia Was Still Our Chief Political Foe And Said “Russia Is A Geopolitical Opponent, And In That Regard I Think We’ve Seen Very Clearly That They Continue To Pursue A Course Which Is Antithetical To The Interests Of Our Nation.” [Kilmeade and Friends, Fox News Radio, 6/19/12]

MARCH 2012: Romney: Russia Is America’s “Number One Geopolitical Foe.” [Situation Room, CNN, 3/26/12]

New York Times Editorial: That Romney Considers Russia To Be America’s “No. 1 Geopolitical Foe” Showed “Either A Shocking Lack Of Knowledge About International Affairs Or Just Craven Politics.” [Editorial, New York Times, 3/29/12]

9:51 pm: What is a "crippling sanction?" ... isn't that the point of sanctions?

9:48 pm: Romney drops the "When I'm president of the United States line."

9:47 pm: The conservative view on foreign policy: President Obama’s Administration Was Behind The Idea Of “Massive Defense Cuts.” “The book ‘The Price of Politics,’ by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, makes it clear the idea for the draconian spending cuts originated in the White House – and not in Congress. According to the book, excerpts of which were obtained by POLITICO ahead of the Sept. 11 release, President Barack Obama’s top deputies believed the prospect of massive defense cuts would compel Republicans to agree to a deficit-cutting grand bargain.” (Austin Wright, “Bob Woodward Book Could Bolster Republican Attack On W.H.,” Politico, 9/7/12)

9:45 pm: 100% each candidate gives the exact same answer to this question. 

9:42 pm: Is Obama even listening to this debate? He's all over the place here.

9:37 pm: Moderator: "Let me get back to foreign policy." 

9:36 pm: Obama talks about education reform ... at the foreign policy debate.

9:33 pm: Mitt Romney starts talking about domestic issues in the foreign policy debate. 

9:31 pm: This is Obama right now: 


9:30 pm: Romney is surprisingly “winning” this debate … he’s talking but really not screwing up.

9:28 pm: In nowhere in the rest of the world is America’s leadership better than it was four years ago.

9:26 pm: Romney, the mission in the Middle East: “We want people to have brighter lives [in the Middle East] … for us to achieve these principles, we have to be strong.” … Romney is really pushing a hawkish foreign policy here.

9:24 pm: Finally, this is a debate that discusses real political policy. They’re talking about some big issues here, including national sovereignty, the role of America’s military arm, the place of democracy and intervention, how should capitalism be involved in peace making, will/ can the Middle East be democratized … these are all very deep questions.

9: 23 pm: Romney: “[Syria] should have been a moment of American leadership ….”

9:21 pm: Romney says he wants to intervene in Syria … but not to intervene in Syria … he wants to replace Assad, but doesn’t want the U.S. military to involved.

9:16 pm: Obama: Part of America’s leadership is making sure we do nation-building here at home.

9: 13 pm: Romney outlines that he would never give Russia the same sort of wiggle room which Obama game Russia’s president

9:11 pm: Romney: “Russia is a huge geo political foe.”

9:11 pm: Obama: “You have been in a position to execute on foreign policy.” There it is, that’s the debate.

9:10 pm: Obama: “When asked a few months ago who you thought the biggest geopolitical threat was, and you said Russia.”

9:08 pm: Romney: “We can’t kill our way out of this issue.

9:05 p.m. Romney opens strong on foreign policy ... discussing Mali.

9 pm: This should be a pretty intimate conversation between the two candidates. I'm pretty sure, after watching the last debate, that these two guys hate each other. 

8:55 pm: We're 5 minutes out ... LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE

8:47 pm: Tonight's moderator announced that the topics will be:

America's Role in the World

Our Longest War-Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red Lines-Israel and Iran

The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism

The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World

Judging from these topic headings, we can expect a major focus on the Middle East (no surprise there) with an tangential look at Asia. Curiously, Syria is not on the list. Romney will have to work hard to bring that one up during the debate tonight.

8:44 pm: This: 


8:26 pm: Obama's view for tonight. Intimate.  

7:34 pm: NYDailynews.com developed a useful Q and A feature regarding the third debate. Romney won both coin tosses and will be opening and closing the debate.

7:10 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. 

5:45 pm: This one GIF pretty much sums up the 2012 election: 


5 pm: What do we need to hear from Romney tonight in order for him to set himself apart?

PolicyMic pundit Daniel Bender weighs in: 

"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."

4:54 pm: An image of Mitt Romney pops up in an Iowa corn field .....

4:40 pm: Some quick conservative humor: 



4:30 pm: The World is Watching Tonight: Remember that it's not only Americans who care about the foreign policy debate, it's also the rest of the world. PolicyMic Pundit Kathleen O'Neill reports:

The U.S. is still recovering from a Bush presidency in the eyes of the world. Four years after he left office, four years after his predecessor took the oath, on the streets of Cairo, you can still hear denunciations of Bush. 

Barack Obama was hailed as offering a new vision and new hope for the Middle East when he took office four years ago, and while still comparatively well received compared to Bush, his popularity is waning, particularly amongst the increasingly influential youth. The next president, be it a continuation of Obama's tenure or Mitt Romney, will find himself battling two fronts: the wishes of his constituency and global interests. 

America’s image was in need of drastic repair after the invasion of Iraq. Obama’s speech in front of Cairo’s youth in 2009 left many optimistic. His opportunity to prove himself the leader presented itself just two years later when protests erupted in Tunis calling for a change of order. Within weeks these protests had spread to Cairo, where slow reactions from the White House demanding Mubarak’s resignation left many in the region’s most populous country disappointed. The tear gas supplies that continued to enter the country knowing that the military was using it against its people in an effort to suppress them outraged Egyptians and Americans alike, with countless petitions being sent around demanding an immediate cessation of shipments. 

In Syria, the continued bloodshed and failure to stop the slaughter has instilled disillusionment. The hallow calls for Bashar al-Assad ("lion" in Arabic) to step down are nothing more than empty words. The faltering relationship with China and Russia has been exemplified over the UN’s failure to do more than ineffective resolutions. 

Fears of a nuclear Iran fill American newspapers, while Romney decries an easing friendship with Israel. Palestinian statehood continues to be sidelined. Fears of the growing influence of Islamist parties in the region terrify Americans.

It is undeniable that the Middle East plays an important role in U.S. foreign policy, be it oil dependence, military bases, foreign aid, etc. As such, maintaining a strong relationship with not only the region's governments, but also the people, are paramount to fulfilling U.S. interests. This tenuous relationship may be becoming even more precarious. Recent polling data indicated that 54% of Americans would prefer a stable Middle East to a more democratic one. 

This is the obstacle of tonight’s debate. How to balance U.S. interests, the desires of the American people and the wishes of the people of the Middle East (and the rest of the world) to ensure that all people are satisfied? A return to dictatorial regimes in the name of stability (a la Mubarak) will only serve to further sever American interests. Continued disengagement in Syria will further alienate potential allies as the regional power dynamics shift, and create more opportunities for terrorist pockets to develop.

While the American people may wish for stability over democracy, this is the worst thing for American interests. The goal of tonight’s debate should be to explain that transformation from the oppressive regional regimes is better for everyone in the long run. If the U.S. can actively engage in supporting this, and fostering the transition and upholding the beliefs that democracy is best, even if it may not be our vision for the country. 

3:58 pm: This:

3:54 pm: Romney has also been heavily criticized for his ventures into foreign policy, first on a somewhat embarrassing trip to England, Israel and Poland, and then after he made hasty remarks regarding the protests in Egypt and Libya before all the facts had become clear.

However, despite their respective gaffes, there seems to be little difference between the two candidates in their actual planned foreign policies. In a recent speech given at the Virginia Military Academy, Romney appeared merely to call for an intensified version of Obama’s policies. The onus is on Romney to differentiate himself from Obama, so it will be interesting to see how he goes about this tonight.

In terms of presidential power, foreign policy is one of the few areas that lies solely with the executive. Therefore, despite a relatively low public interest in foreign affairs, this is clearly the most important debate in terms of how the two candidates will be practically different from one another once in the White House.

3:41 pm: PolicyMic reporter Ed Williams will be reporting live from the debate in Florida. Here's a photo he snapped of John McCain:

2:26 pm: The evening could be the make-or-break for Romney. As it stands, the race for the White House is in a dead heat, and after a poor first performance from the president, Romney seems to have the advantage. But foreign policy is a tricky area for him. He's made a series of blunderous comments about Libya and the Palestinians, and compared to Obama's four years of dealing with these issues, has no real experience on these issues. Will he be able to land the president a devastating third-round blow? Will Obama continue with his aggressive, no-holds-barred approach that won him the second debate? Weigh-in in the comments below.

2:21 pm: Watch carefully as Governor Romney continues to declare he will label China a “currency manipulator” on the first day. Similarly, look for President Obama’s explanation of a leaked story regarding bilateral talks with Iran regarding their nuclear program that the administration quickly denounced.

2:08 pm: 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.

2 pm: As the aftermath of the first presidential debate indicates, these debates are potential vehicles for serious changes in voter sentiments. Thus, this contest is far from over. According to the most recent Gallup poll, Romney currently holds leads among registered and likely voters nationwide of 3 points and 7 points respectively. However, as Nate Silver illustrates, Obama currently maintains leads in key swing states, giving him a 68% chance of capturing the majority share of the electoral college vote to Romney’s 32%. This will be the last chance for the candidate’s to challenge each other’s positions and sway the votes of the undecided viewing public. Expect a good show.

1:51 pm: Fun and Games: During last Tuesday’s very aggressive debate, the tension between the two candidates was thick. For those of you who missed it, here is a short and much more entertaining recap of the debate via Saturday Night Live:

Monday, 11 am This Debate Actually Matters: 

A strong performance at the Monday night debate will undoubtedly help nudge one candidate slightly ahead of the other. And now that we’re 15 days outside of the election, even that simple nudge is a big deal.

 

The story of October has been the come-from-behind surge of Romney in the polls, and the Republican is only continuing his momentum. Some analyses show that Romney may be just a swing state away from holding enough states to win the Electoral College. How does foreign policy play into all of this? If Romney plays his cards right and says all the right things Re: foreign policy in Monday’s debate, he could build even more momentum in the final 15 days of this election.

The world will be watching….

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