Summary of Third Presidential Debate:
The moderator was Bob Schieffer, CBS News' Chief Washington Correspondent and moderator of Face the Nation. He noted that the debate was on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy announcement that the Russians had nuclear missiles in Cuba. This signified the importance of foreign policy to the future of the U.S. Mr. Schieffer's questions covered six major foreign policy topics:
Does the Attack in Libya Mean the U.S. Middle East Policy Is Unraveling?:
Obama: We've kept the U.S. safe for the last four years. We supported the liberation of Libya, but at the same cost as just two weeks in Iraq. Most Libyans still consider the U.S. a friend. A few weeks ago, Romney said that Russia was the greatest threat to the U.S. and that we should return troops to Iraq. (He otherwise painted Romney as being inconsistent in his comments and policies regarding the Middle East.) I will make sure we protect Israel, protect religious minorities and women, develop their economic capabilities. But also make sure we are doing more nation-building here than in Middle East.
Romney: Disagrees with Obama's representations of his foreign policy statements. I said that Russia is a geopolitical foe, and I would provide more backbone instead of flexibility.
Should We Find a Better Way to Influence Events in Syria?:
Romney: Syria is Iran's route to the sea and its only ally. Removing Assad is paramount. We don't want to get into a military conflict, so we want to organize the opposition and make sure they have the arms they need.
Schieffer: Governor, Do You Think We Should Get More Involved in Syria?Romney: I don't think it's necessary to put our military into Syria. We need to help organize the insurgents and give them more arms.
Obama: Romney doesn't have different ideas than what we are already doing.
Mr. President, Do Have Any Regrets in Insisting Egyptian President Mubarak Go?Obama: I have no regrets. We have to support democracy. However, we are putting pressure on Egypt to support women's rights, abide with their agreement with Israel, work with our attempts to fight terrorism. We have to give their young people hope for a better life. We have to also focus on doing the same here, however.
Romney: I wouldn't have stuck with Mubarak, either. However, we should have tried to make for a smoother transition. To have a peaceful world, we've got to lower the U.S. debt, increase our military strength, and stand strong with our allies and principals.
What Is America's Role in the World?:
Obama: America is stronger than four years ago, because we ended the war in Iraq, which allowed us to focus on other priorities. For example, our alliances are now stronger than ever. We are rebuilding our economy by retraining workers, strengthening auto industry, cutting our oil imports by building alternative energy. Romney's plan doesn't cut the deficit.
Where Will Romney Get the Money to Add to Defense Spending?:
Obama: Military spending has gone up every year I've been in office. (Factcheck: It was $851 billion in FY 2013, and $868 billion in FY 2012, lower than $890 billion in FY 2010. But still higher than any other President in history. For more, see Military budget.)) We spend more on the military than the next 10 countries. I've asked the Joint Chiefs to plan for what we'll need in the future -- cybersecurity and space. It's driven by strategy. It allows us to reduce our deficit by spending smarter, not more. Romney can't spend $2 trillion more on defense, $5 trillion more on tax cuts and still reduce the deficit. We have fewer ships now because we have more aircraft carriers and submarines.
Should We Still Leave Afghanistan in 2014 Even if the Afghans Aren't Ready?:
Obama: By ending war in Iraq, we could refocus on Afghanistan. We've met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place by decimating al-Qaeda's core leadership. Afghans are now perfectly capable of defending their own country. We've got to transition responsibly. This allows us to free up resources to put our own people, especially veterans, back to work, build our infrastructure. It's especially important to help the veterans with PTSD.
Governor, Is It Time to Divorce Pakistan?Romney: No, they have too many nuclear weapons to ignore. It's not Obama's fault the relationship is strained. We will have to work with them to make sure the Pashtuns don't rush into Afghanistan as soon as we leave.
Governor, What Is Your Position on the Use of Drones?Romney: I support it entirely. I agree with the President's decisions on that. We will have to do more by having a more comprehensive strategy to move the world away from Islamic extremism.
Obama: We've have created the partnerships needed to go after extremism, by reducing corruption in government, making sure the free market system works. During the last four years, we've stood with democracy. As a result, attitudes toward America are better.
Would Either of You Declare That an Attack on Israel Is an Attack on the U.S?:
Romney: We will stand with Israel militarily. I would tighten sanctions against Iran. Ships with Iranian oil can't come into our ports. Indict Ahmadinejad for genocide in the UN court. I agree that military action is a last resort.
What Is the Goal for Iran?Obama: End their nuclear program, and they can reenter the global community. Must cooperate with inspections. We won't allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere. If they don't meet demands, we will take all options necessary to prevent nuclear capability.
Romney: Our enemies see weakness in Obama because he ignored the Green Revolution, initially said he would meet with our enemies, and apologized for the U.S. We are four years closer to a nuclear Iran.
Obama: None of these things he just said are true. Iran is now at its weakest point than in many years thanks to our efforts.
What Would You Do If Israel Sends Bombers to Iran?Romney: That wouldn't happen unless we had talked about it ahead of time. I see our influence waning around the world, thanks to our debt, reductions in military spending, and our deteriorating relations with Israel.
Obama: Romney has been all over the map with his foreign policies, and didn't support our efforts to get bin Laden.
What Is the Greatest Future Threat to the National Security of this Country?:
Romney: The greatest national security threat is a nuclear Iran. China doesn't want war, protectionism, or chaos. Agrees we can work with them, but they've got to be responsible. On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator. (Factcheck: China's currency is at the highest level in 17 years. For more, see China's Currency.)They are stealing our technology, hacking into our computers, and not playing by the rules.
If You Declare Them a Currency Manipulator, Won't That Start a Trade War?Romney: We are already losing it, since they sell us a lot more stuff than they sell us. They want a trade war less than we do. (For details, see U.S. China Trade Deficit.
Obama: We need to invest in education and basic research, which the private sector won't do. Currencies are at the best place vis-a-vis China since 1993. The U.S. is focusing on selling to ex-China Pacific region to generate competition to China.
Romney: We should have allowed the auto industry to go through a managed bankruptcy. I never said I would liquidate the industry.
Romney: I want to make the world a safer place, and get the economy going. If we follow the President's path, our debt will be at $20 trillion. I will balance the budget, create 12 million jobs, and work across the aisle. (Sources: C-Span Presidential Debate, October 22, 2012; CNN, Transcript of Third Debate, October 22, 2012)
Summary of Prior Debates:
The second debate was on October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead New York. It was a town hall format, in which the candidates answered questions posed by voters. It was moderated by Candy Crowley, the chief political correspondent for CNN. Read the summary of the second Presidential debate.
There was also a debate on October 11 between Vice-President Joe Biden and the Republican VP nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan in Danville, Kentucky. See a summary of the Vice-Presidential Debate.Article updated October 23, 2012.