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Published On: Tue, Oct 23rd, 2012

President Obama and Romney spar in the final debate, leaving voters confused over their differences

In a debate that struggled to state on topic, President Obama and Mitt Romney made their final appeals to the American people during the third and final debate Monday night.

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The showdown at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, took place amid a tightening presidential race. Romney’s performance in the candidates’ first meeting on October 3 in Denver gave him a boost in national polls, a momentum that appeared to be continuing well past the second debate which Obama likely won.

Romney appeared driven to communicate how he differed from George W. Bush, repeatedly stating that he opposed war, and although he called for higher military spending, he downplayed military solutions to foreign problems. Romney congratulated Obama for “taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership of Al Qaeda, but we can’t kill our way out of this mess.”

Obama was relentless in his attempt to paint a Romney administration as a repeat of the Bush years.

“You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq,” said Obama, a Democrat who opposed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. “But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. … You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day.”

“There was an effort on the part of the president to have a Status of Forces Agreement, and I concurred in that, and said that we should have some number of troops that stayed on,” Romney said.

Romney faulted Obama for what he described as growing threats in Syria, Libya and Iran.

“Syrians are going to have to determine their own future,” the President stated. As for arming rebels in the country, he warned there that “we have to do so, making absolutely certain who we are helping, that we are not putting arms in the hands of folks who could eventually turn against us.”

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“This is the time for us to use not only sanctions, but covert actions within Syria to get regime change there,” Romney said.

An hour into the debate, Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of U.S. troops still remain, had barely been mentioned.

One big “zinger” came over the Navy.

Romney went after the military cuts, citing that “our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917.”

Obama responded sarcastically. “I think Governor Romney maybe 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’s changed,” he said, growing even more snarky. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities.”

“Romney refused to get trapped in petty back and forth,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), echoing a repeated talking point from the GOP. “The president was almost looking to land personal blows.”

Many viewers may have felt their wasn’t much difference between the two candidates, they agreed on most issues and Obama’s campaign agreed.

“I know that Mitt Romney tried to offer his endorsement of virtually everything President Obama did,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We accept his endorsement.”

Glenn Beck put it on his Twitter page, “I am glad to know that Mitt agrees with Obama so much. No, really. Why vote?”

The CNN Poll will likely be the standard and states that President Obama won 48-40%.

Nearly six in ten watchers say that Obama did a better job in the debate than they had expected, 15 points higher than the 44% who said that the GOP challenger had a better than expected debate performance.

Obama’s aggressive strategy led the debate audience to give him a narrow 51%-46% edge on leadership, but it may have come at the cost of likeability.

“A majority of debate watchers said that President Obama seemed to be the stronger leader,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But on the question of likeability, the two candidates are essentially tied on a trait that has generally been an advantage for Obama. That’s probably due to the fact that two-thirds of debate watchers felt that Obama spent more time than Mitt Romney on the attack.”

Half of those questioned say that the debate did not affect how they would vote, with 25% saying they are more likely to vote for Romney and 24% saying they are more likely to cast a ballot for Obama.

The sample of debate-watchers in the poll was 34% Democratic and 30% Republican.

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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