The third and final debate between the two presidential candidates was as fascinating as the first two, with the President Barack Obama on familiar grounds, outgunning Gov. Romney, putting him on the back foot right at the beginning saying, “Every time you’ve offered an opinion you’ve been wrong.”
Romney with cool self assurance reminded that there were more serious issues at stake “Attacking me is not an agenda” for an increasingly perilously world.
Romney was adamant that inspite of all the President’s claims that crippling sanctions on Iran have insured that their nuclear weapons program faces serious impediments, the country was four years closer to having nuclear capabilities.
The only foreign policy area that both agreed upon was that Israel was an important ally and come what way the US would support it, even if the country is attacked.
Although both expressed serious concern about what is going on in Syria, they said they were opposed to taking out the Syrian President Bashir Assad militarily.
Compared to the lackluster first debate and the very vociferous and combative second debate the third did not produce fireworks and there was much more cordiality with neither of them interrupting the other, something that was done with increasing regularity during the second debate.
For Romney, whose advertising campaign, both print and media, focused more on the economy and where he did not talk about Obama’s foreign policies, this was the only chance to challenge the President on where the President’s policies have gone wrong and how he intended to change them.
Both knew that this was the last chance to make their point and were hopeful that they could deliver the knockout punch. Even on points where there was very little chance of disagreeing or making allegation they took potshots at one another and trespassed into areas other than international affairs. For Romney, the state of the economy, millions of jobless Americans and for Obama Romney’s alleged penchant for helping his rich peers found place with such serious issues as China, Iran and Afghanistan.
Obama did not miss the opportunity of responding to Romney continued tirade alleging that the country was soft against Iran saying that “The fact is, while we were coordinating an international coalition to make sure these sanctions were effective, [Romney was] still invested in a Chinese state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil sector.”
The only time it seemed that the Governor held the upper hand was when he said that from day one he would label China as a currency manipulator and would not allow them to steal American jobs. On Pakistan he said that he would provide aid to them with stringent conditions, meet them or forget the aid, he said is what he would tell them.
Romney said that despite the ouster of despotic regimes of Mubarak Husain and Colonel Gadaffi, there is “rising tide of chaos”, thanks to confused policies of the President. He warned that an al-Qaida like group had taken over Northern Mali, a sign of things to come.
He tried to belittle Obama’s claim that most of the killers of Americans have been killed, especially Osama. Romney said that I congratulate the President for ridding the world of Osama but killing was not the way to get out of the mess. He philosophically suggested that a better way would be to get Islamic scholars and leaders to tell the Muslims that what they were doing was un-Islamic and wrong.
However, Obama said that a strong stance was necessary. He said, “Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s.”
Experts say that it is virtually assured that Obama of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory will get 237 from sure-fire states and the District of Columbia. Romney on the other hand is assured of 191 electoral votes.
The candidates have to manage the rest from battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.
For both the countdown has begun and with the debates done and dusted, both candidates take on a fortnight of non-stop campaigning that will see them crisscross the country in a last ditch effort to convince the voters their way.