The critics had labelled it “Fight Night”, and while the third and final debate in the US presidential election campaign was certainly feisty, there were no fisticuffs.
The focus in Florida was on foreign policy. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clashed on all the big issues; China, Iran, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Romney dismissed what many see as one of the successes of Obama’s tenure: “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. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world to reject this radical violent extremism.”
“Governor Romney,” replied Obama,“I am glad that you recognise that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked ‘what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America?’, you said ‘Russia’! Not al Qaeda, you said ‘Russia’. In the 1980s or now, calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years. But, governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s
“Attacking me is not an agenda.” retorted Romney. “Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.”
“I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy,” conceded Obama, “but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.”
Research suggests the final debate went in favour of Obama. One poll put him on 48 percent support against 40 percent for Romney. Both will now get back on the campaign trail for the final two week push.
Watch a summary of the debate in 172 seconds: