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After Gov. Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate and President Barack Obama won the second, the candidates went into the last debate Monday night tied in terms of having an equal chance at being labeled with the overall best performance throughout the series.
At Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Romney and Obama took more moderate and safe stances than usual while focusing on the issues of foreign policy and national security, and yet the outcome was telling of the candidates in this election.
Moderator Bob Schieffer began the night with a question concerning what is currently happening in Libya. Romney provided a strong answer describing that, for the most part, he agrees with how the president was able to handle the situation so far.
“I congratulate him on taking out Osama Bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda… but we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Romney said, showing that on this topic, he stands at almost the same point with Obama.
Romney took it a step further, however, by saying that we need a “very comprehensive and robust strategy” to push us ahead. The Republican candidate was able to greatly improve his image to America with statements like this in this final debate.
President Obama’s response to Schieffer’s first question immediately demonstrated how he was being put on the defensive by Romney. He seemed to keep with the theme of what he has done in the last four years in terms of foreign policy, instead of focusing more on what he would do if given another four years in office.
Romney, on the other hand, was effectively able to explain his plans of getting the Muslim world to “reject extremism” if he were elected President. Additionally, he did a notable job this time of not focusing his arguments around attacking Obama but rather on strongly arguing his own plans to get America back on track.
This being said, I believe that, unlike the second debate, Romney did perform exceptionally better than President Obama this time around.
The president focused way too much of his attention on attacking Romney during the debate, rather than offering a straightforward plan of how he would take care of foreign policy issues in the future.
“Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney said. “Attacking me is not talking about how we are going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence.”
As the debate progressed into a question surrounding Syria, Obama continued to focus on what his administration has done so far, and not on what he can do over the next four years. Throughout the night, this continually gave Romney the upper hand, because he was able to promote his beliefs about what we should be doing to assist the people in these countries and how he can accomplish his plans if he were to become president.
“Our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us, a responsible government, if possible,” Romney said. “And I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to remove Assad.”
The presidential hopeful again demonstrated his upper hand by laying out a straightforward plan of how to get America in shape economically, in order to be a strong international leader when it comes to foreign policy and national security. He laid out a nice, clean “five-step plan.” This plan includes North American energy independence, increasing our trade, training programs for workers, working toward a balanced budget and strengthening small American businesses.
Concerning Iran and Israel, Obama and Romney agreed on two things: standing with Israel and not allowing Iran to have “nuclear material.” But Romney went one step beyond Obama’s plan and his “crippling sanctions,” stating that, “something I would add today is I would tighten those sanctions, I would say that ships carrying Iranian oil can’t come into our ports … I would take on diplomatic isolation efforts.”
Near the end of the debate, Schieffer posed a question about Pakistan and U.S. involvement there. President Obama stated that we should start focusing more on our problems here at home before we get any more involved in Pakistan.
“What I think the American people realize is after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation building here at home,” Obama said.
Although I agree with this statement, I agree more with Romney’s argument that we shouldn’t leave a country with so much potential power.
“It’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons… a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation,” Romney said.
These same themes continued through the next question on our involvement in China as well as the rest of the debate.
Ultimately, although Obama did not perform poorly Monday night, I would have to say that Romney definitely took home the win. Unlike the president, he was able to lay out his plans for America concerning foreign policy and national security, while — for the most part — Obama only had two strategies: to attack Romney by highlighting the faults in his arguments and to demonstrate what he did in office the last four years. With Obama not putting a clear plan out there, it is clear that Romney has more to offer America.
Overall, Romney did better than Obama in the 2012 presidential debates, which is mainly due to Romney’s performance in the first debate. Obama’s fall in that debate was so large and hard to come back from that Romney’s performance in the last two definitely put him up top in the end.
This could be one of the few elections where the presidential debates actually have an effect on undecided voters.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Haley James at Haley.firstname.lastname@example.org.