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Third presidential debate on foreign policy

Article added on March 23, 2012 at 03:37 Italian time; new portions added at the end continuously; last update at 04:33 Italian time
On the evening of March 22, 2012 local time, the third presidential debate took place in Boca Raton, Florida. It was devoted to foreign policy. The debate was moderated by CBS's Bob Schieffer.

It is impossible to report all details. Some lines may be paraphrased and much shortened.

The first question was about Libya. Romney: We can't kill our way out of the Middle Eastern problems. We need need an overall strategy. We want the Arab world to be able to reject extremism themselves. He outlined several things that are needed such as gender equality. He said that Northern Mali under control of al-Qaida.

Obama: A few weeks ago, you said that Russia was the major foreign policy threat, not al-Qaida. You said that we should go into Iraq, despite no weapons of mass destruction there. You wanted troops in Iraq until today.

Romney: Attacking me is not a strategy.

Obama: To get more entangled in Syria is a strategic threat. I hope that Assad's time is numbered.

Romney: 30,000 people killed by the Syrian government is a disaster. We don't want to get into a war. Romney looked presidential. Obama did not have the upper hand. We should be playing the leadership role in the Syrian conflict.

Obama responded: We are leading. He attacked Romney for not supporting the Libyan effort for long enough.

Romney: I don't want our military intervene in Syria, but weapons to get to the opposition.

Obama: Romney does not have different ideas.

About Egypt, Bob Schieffer asked whether Obama had any regrets from taking the support to Mubarak. Obama said no, because we (the United States) had to stand with democracy.

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Romney: We want a peaceful planet. The role to do this has fallen to us. We have not asked for it. We need as strong economy and a strong military. Romney cleverly brought in the economic weakness. We are weaker in all fronts today.

Schieffer: What is our role today?

Romney: Defend freedom, human rights, economic liberty, free elections. That for, Obama has to be strong. Romney pounded Obama on the economy again. I will not cut our military budget. Pulling out our military involvement in Poland was unfortunate, so was the lack of support for the Green Revolution in Iran and the way we dealt with our Israeli ally.

Romney: He offered his five points to US success again, as in the previous debate. He said that Latin America is about as big as China. We should not just focus on China.

Of course, Latino voters are important to both candidates.

Schieffer: Governor Romney, you want a bigger military. How can you do this given the economic situation, was the basis assumption.

Romney said that a look at his website would help. He had a plan for a balanced budget within 8-10 years. He wants to revoke Obamacare, etc.

Obama pounded Romney for wanting to spend more, cut taxes, etc. The math simply doesn't work. Obama had a point here.

Romney said what he said in the previous debate: He had always balanced the budget as governor in Massachusetts. He had balanced the budget of the Olympic Games. He would have been out of business as a businessman, whereas Obama run up deficits. Good points!

Obama pounded Romney for his willingness to spend more on the Navy, which is outdated, according to Romney. Previously already, Obama had said that the US outspent the next ten countries on the military spending  list. He had good lines about the military having lesser horses, etc. today then in the past, which of course did not mean that the military was weaker.

Romney: Priority is to make sure that Iran does not get nuclear weapons. He outlined the steps he would take to do this. A military action is the last resort. Again, as in the previous debate, Romney made clear both in Syria and Iran, he did not want to start a war, although he would not fully rule out military action.

Obama: Romney's strategy often was to say the same thing as the Administration, just louder.

Romney: Obama remained silent on the Green Revolution in Iran. Obama also said that he would shed light between Israel and the US. Romney said.

Obama: Nothing what Romney said is true. All fact checkers had said so. The president also pounded Romney for investing in China.

Romney: On your apology, you skipped Israel on your regional tour. And that was noticed.

Obama mentioned his trip to Israel's Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.

Romney: I don't see our influence growing, but receding. He mentioned a letter by Democrat senators to the president to repair US-Israeli relations.

Obama outlined the many questions in which Romney had switched his position.

About Pakistan, answering Schieffer's question, Romney said that the US cannot turn its back on its ally. Relations are strained, but since it is a nuclear power, we cannot just walk away from Pakistan. Schieffer: What is you position on your use of drones? Romney: I fully support it. But killing guy is not a comprehensive strategy. That is what we need. He pointed out to Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, there have been no talks between Israel and Palestine.

Obama pointed out to his overall strategy, e.g. the US stood on the side of democracy and supported reforms towards market economies.

Bob Schieffer: What is the greatest future threat to US national security? Obama saw the same problems as before. Romney said that China should be our partner. But he would attack China as a foreign currency manipulator on the first day.

Obama: You shipped jobs to China. We have doubled trade with China under my presidency.

Romney: We have to remain competitive. We should not in companies, but in basic research.

Obama: It will not make us more competitive to ship jobs abroad, to give with the Romney deficit plan with more spending and lower taxes. Romney wants us to take back to old failed foreign policy and economic policies.

Romney's closing statement: He is confident in the future. A strong US that is a worldwide leader. He pounded the debt, the US on the way of Greece. I will get people back to work by creating 12 millions jobs (how and where?). Romney referred to his bipartisan record in Massachusetts. The US as a torch of hope and freedom.

Good debate. I would call it a tie.

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