The Third & Final Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012)

Last night we saw Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama go head-to-head one last time before the final two weeks on this campaign trail. Based on all that was debated last night, we decided to discuss how each candidate approached his views on foreign policy and how they portrayed that to the American people. What separated these two last night?

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By Emily Cox

As an International Politics major, I generally love studying foreign policy. I find the intricacies fascinating, especially the focus on personal relationship building between heads of state. I have often argued that the president has little real power without the support of Congress, but foreign policy is the one area that deviates from this reality. The president is the face of America, and often his words and actions are the only standard that foreign states have upon which to base their opinions of the United States. America must have a head of state who is not only strong in his or her intellectual understanding of foreign policy, but who is also likeable and works to create rapport with other nations.
There were many important areas of discussion in last night’s debate, and the two candidates presented nearly identical stances on many foreign issues. Both President Obama and Governor Romney agreed serious sanctions must be continued against Iran, and both vocally favored the continued use of drones in our present conflicts abroad. However, one conversation did stand out to me as determinedly telling. Romney’s dismissal of Obama’s 2009 tour in the Middle East as an “Apology Tour” revealed more about the governor’s outlook on foreign relations than it did about Obama’s supposed critique of the United States. Romney has been consistently dismissive of relationship
building with the Middle East, and certain other areas of the world. Who can forget his statement about the impossibility of peace between Palestine and Israel? In last night’s debate, he argued that America’s enemies saw weakness in the Obama administration because the president “sat down with all the world’s worst actors in his first year.” Yes, Obama met with Chavez, Castro, and Kim Jong-Il. Should he have ignored these world actors and left them to their own vices? Surely Romney has heard the expression, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
Creating diplomatic relationships with other countries is the president’s job. Romney’s condemnation of Obama’s Middle East tour shows the limited value he places on building relationships across the globe. Notably, President Obama makes no apologies for the foreign relations he pursues. He made it clear in last night’s debate that his goal in foreign policy is to promote peace and democracy throughout the world. America simply cannot do this if we do not maintain a working and amiable relationship with all other countries – not just those easiest to get along with. The issue of foreign policy is a complex matter, but it is also one in which President Obama displays consistency and
success.

By Collier Roberts

The third and final debate last night ended a great run by Governor Mitt Romney as he heads into the final days of the election. It didn’t really matter who won the debate last night, because I do believe Romney did what he needed to do in the first two debates to solidify the plan he has laid out for America to take, and not leave to President Obama. Last night’s debate proved to be a little taxing for Romney, because when you are debating the commander in chief and haven’t had the opportunity to influence foreign policy, the incumbent usually takes control. While this may have been the case last night, Obama’s arguments didn’t line up.

Numerous times Romney pointed out that having a weak economy directly correlates with how our foreign policy is carried out. Obama criticized Romney for being “all over the board” when it comes to foreign policy, not to mention interrupting him, exclaiming that various points Romney made were simply “not true.” Here is the issue: Obama agreed that a weak economy is threatening our security around the world. He also believes that we should start focusing a little more on our own front and let other countries essentially do it by themselves. But when our economy is $16 trillion in the tank, how can you argue that we are keeping America safe and diplomatically sound when you also argue that a bad economy threatens our security? It doesn’t line up, and the president has put us in that situation.

One question that I think Bob Schieffer missed the mark on, thus doing  a disservice to voters, was on Libya. That was the first question of the debate, but somehow it went to a discussion on 9/11 and Al-Qaeda very quickly.  How can you ignore the FACT that the president and his administration withheld information from the American people about the devastating incident in Benghazi and Ambassador Stevens? They knew it had nothing to do with that YouTube video and was a terrorist attack from the beginning. Additionally, it is clear that the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his staff sent requests weeks before his death for more security because of the rising uproar there. Romney had a perfect chance to show America that we are weaker aboard because of President Obama. Radicals across the Middle East are burning our flag and it’s all over the news. That is one of many examples showing Obama’s unraveling foreign policy.

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