US Presidential Debate: Round 3

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US Presidential Debate: Round 3

Live blog of the third US presidential debate for the 2012 election season. Updates courtesy of and The Boston Globe.

  • RT @AshleyRParker: All five Romney sons — even Ben! — at the debate tonight. #debates
  • Romney speaking first.

  • Romney opening statement mentions hotspot not yet on the radar of most Americans: Mali. Reports suggest hundreds of Islamic exrtremists are flooding to the North African country to fight in a civil war. The latest news is that France is dispatching drones to the region.
  • Schieffer notes debate coincides with 50th anniversary of Cuban Missile Crisis, says it is “sobering reminder” of how foreign affairs concerns can pop up at any time. First question to Romney: You labeled it part of an “unraveling foreign policy.” How?

    Romney opens with joke about how they were last together last week at a roast in New York. Says debate is an occasion to be funny without intention. Then he turns serious, says the attack in Libya is deadly serious, and part of unrest through region. “What we’re seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal of hopes we had for that region,” says Romney, before adding that while Obama got bin Laden, “We can’t kill our way out of this.” He says US must reject radical Islam.

    Obama says his first responsibility is to keep country safe, implying that there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on his watch, and that he has “decimated” al Qaeda leadership. Then says he went after the attackers of the Benghazi attackers. Also reminds that for the cost of less than two weeks in Iraq, his administration created a regime change in Libya without the cost of a single American life. Obama ends by accusing Romney of having a strategy “all over the map.”
  • We have agreement. Obama: "I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered." Romney: "I believe Assad must go. I believe he will go."
  • FACT CHECK: Romney said a couple of weeks ago that we should still have troops in Iraq: Obama has made this charge before, in reference to a foreign policy address Romney delviered at Virginia Military Institute on Oct. 8. Here’s what Romney said about Iraq that day:

    “In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran. And yet, America's ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence. The President tried—and failed—to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.”
  • FACT CHECK: President Obama's claim that Romney said he would have left large numbers of troops in Iraq is true, but fails to mention that he, too, expressed a desire to keep some troops but failed to secure the permission of the Iraqi government. This independent fact-check takes a look at both candidates' statements on the continued role of US troops in Iraq.
  • Schieffer moves discussion to Syria, noting war there seems to be spilling over to Lebanon. He asks president: “Should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a better way to influence events there?” Schieffer notes 30,000 have died since Obama said Assad had to go.

    Obama says scene in Syria “heartbreaking,” but to get more entangled militarily “is a serious step” and we don’t want to arm possible enemies. “I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered,” says president.

    Romney, staying calm as he discusses an area not of great familiarity to him, shows that he has been studying issues by moving through answer with delberation. Agrees that US arms can’t end up in wrong hands, “but the Saudis, Qatari, and the Turks are all concerned about this.” “This is a critical opportunity for America,” he says, and US risks squandering it by taking a back seat to the United Nations and Russia.
  • RT @reidepstein: RT @davelevinthal: And speaking of clear eyes, Bashar al-Assad is, by training, an ophthalmologist.
  • ANALYSIS: On Syria, despite the tough rhetoric tonight, Romney’s position is fairly similar to that of Obama. Neither wants to send US troops into the country. Both men have declined to support a proposal from Senator John McCain to create no-fly zones and safe havens for rebels. Romney wants to send arms to rebels, but only those who share US values, a difficult condition to assess in wartime. Obama has encouraged some other countries to get light arms to rebels. A full look in this story:
  • What is America's role in the world? "The world needs a strong America" #USvote
  • RT @rapplerdotcom: Romney: Latin America is a huge opportunity for us
  • In this debate about foreign policy, Romney, Obama discuss the ailing US economy.
  • LOL This is a foreign policy debate. Why are they talking about the local economy, education? #USvote
  • Obama replies, “America remains the one indispensable nation,” and country “is stronger now than when I came into office. He says ending war in Iraq has saved country money and allowed country to refocus on alliances that had been neglected or frayed. “What we also have been able to do is reposition so we can start rebuilding America,” says president, as he shifts to touting his domestic economic agenda. Complains that Romney economic agenda will not reduce the deficit. “Both at home and abroad, he has proposed wrong and reckless policies,” says president.

    Romney pivots from “wrong and reckless” allegation to complete recitation of his five-point economic plan. “I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget,” and away from country “from becoming another Greece,” says Romney.
  • President retorts that when he was governor of Massachusetts, job creation in state was 47th in country. Then Obama continues to use this foreign policy debate to talk about domestic policy, highlighting his support for teacher hiring and class-size reduction.

    “Let me get back to foreign policy,” says Schieffer. Before he can, though, Romney insists on recounting the strong education record Massachusetts acquired under his tenure.
  • Schieffer asks Romney, if you want bigger military, “where are you going to get the money?” Romney says he will cut 5 percent of discretionary spending, including Obamacare. “There are a number of things that sound good, but, frankly, we can’t afford them,” he says. He also says that by shifting programs to states, federal government can save money.

    Obama interjects: Romney has called for $5 trillion in tax cuts, paid by closing deducations, and $2 trillion more in military spending that military doesn’t want. President says spending has gone up annually during his term, “but what you can’t do is spend $2 trillion more ... $5 trillion on tax cuts.”
  • “Bob, I’m pleased that I’ve balanced budget,” says Romney. “The president hasn’t balanced a budget yet,” he adds.

    Romney then says Navy needs more ships, Air Force needs newer and more planes, and country can no longer fight two conflicts at once. “I will not cut our military by $1 trillion,” he says.

    Obama gets tart in reply, saying Romney’s military vision is dated, that country no longer needs as many bayonnets as it once did. He is bordering on being lecturing to Romney.
  • Obama: "We can't afford a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world"
  • RT @rapplerdotcom: NOW: Iran, Israel, and the US.
  • BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as moderator Bob Schieffer (C) of CBS looks on at the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University on October 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. The focus for the final presidential debate before Election Day on November 6 is foreign policy. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

  • Again, exactly on time, Schieffer moves to new topic: Would you treat attack on Israel as one on the US.

    “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked,” says Obama. Obama suggests when it comes to Iran, Romney seems to have suggested “premature” military action.

    Romney says, “If Israel is attacked, we have their back.” And on Iran, “there is no question that a nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable.” Romney also calls for indicting Iranian president for genocide. “Of course, a military action is a last resort,” he concludes.

    Schieffer asks about reports of negotiating directly with Iran. President says report in weekend New York Times “is not true.” He adds, “I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we are taking.”

    His implied message: Romney has no clear policy differences, and that his policy has been focused on consensus building - unlike President Bush, apparently, who was accused of a go-it-alone policy.
  • RT @politico: Obama to Romney: This is not a game of Battleship
  • FACT CHECK: The charge that President Obama began his presidency with an “apology tour” is a common accusation from Mitt Romney -- he even named his book “No Apologies.” But it’s not true. Obama did go on a world tour early in presidency, but he did not issue any apologies. Politifact looked into it and called it a “ridiculous charge.”
  • ANALYSIS: Obama has brought up "jobs of the future" at least twice now, but still no real talk about renewables and the clean tech industry, or where the US fits when trying to compete in that sector on a global scale.
  • "I support that entirely," Romney says of drone strikes.
  • Schieffer asks Romney about Pakistan: It has arrested doctor who led US to bin Laden. “Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?” Romney says no, since it has 100 nuclear weapons. “It’s not a nation that’s like others,” since it has military control. “If it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there. ... This is an important part of the world for us,” says Romney.

    Schieffer asks Romney, “What is your position on the use of drones?” Says it is widely reported they are in heavy use, and he supports that. But he also calls for “a far more effective and comprehensive strategy” to move world away from radical extremism.
  • ANALYSIS: Romney seems to be taking pains to stress points of agreement with Obama. On drones: "I support that entirely, and feel the president was right." Upside: it could make him look statesmanlike. Downside: repeatedly praising Obama muddles Romney's argument that the president has mishandled foreign policy.
  • NOW: China-US relations
  • Now: The rise of China #USvote
  • Romney: Greatest threat is a nuclear Iran China also wants a stable world
  • Schieffer asks Romney about Pakistan: It has arrested doctor who led US to bin Laden. “Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?” Romney says no, since it has 100 nuclear weapons. “It’s not a nation that’s like others,” since it has military control. “If it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there. ... This is an important part of the world for us,” says Romney.

    Schieffer asks Romney, “What is your position on the use of drones?” Says it is widely reported they are in heavy use, and he supports that. But he also calls for “a far more effective and comprehensive strategy” to move world away from radical extremism.

    Obama says drones aren’t only part of US policy, that State Department has engaged on a variety of levels. “Across the board,” US is supporting them, he said.

    Schieffer asks Obama: What is greatest future threat? President says terrorism, followed by China, which can be great economic partner, but it has to be a world partner, too.
  • Romney: We can be a partner of China.. we can work with them Again invokes economy
  • FACT CHECK: The Obama administration has won every trade case against China that has been decided: The Obama administration has won about a dozen cases against China that were decided by the World Trade Organization, including a ruling last week that barred China from imposing unfair tariffs on American steel exports. The United States has not lost any of the cases it has brought before the WTO against China, though some are pending.

    But China also has won three trade cases against the United States, and it is unclear whether the American victories have aided US companies. For example, the Obama administration successfully fought for repeal of Chinese tariffs on American-made auto parts, but before and during the adjudication process, Chinese auto parts makers built a formidable industry that has diminished little, even after the tariff repeal.

    The Obama administration filed a new complaint in September, alleging that China is illegally subsidizing its auto parts industry to gain a competitive advantage over the United States. Winning the case would not automatically entitle American companies to recover lost business.

    In addition, some major business sectors fall outside the World Trade Organization’s jurisdiction, leaving the United States without an independent arbiter to resolve disputes.
  • Romney, much different than campaign trail talk: “We can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an adversary in any shape or form.”
  • ANALYSIS: China, in many ways, is both an opportunity and a threat. For sure, the country wants to acquire any and all of the cutting edge US companies and technologies that it can. Two local
    cases illustrate the point: 1) an ongoing intellectual property lawsuit filed by AMSC (formerly
    American Superconductor) after the Devens firm said the Sinovel Wind Group Co. in Beijing
    stole some of its wind turbine control system technology; and 2) a more legitimate attempt by Wanxiang to acquire advanced battery technology from A123 Systems. US firms, meanwhile
    see China and its already vast – and still-growing – consumer market as a place they need to be
    to compete. Here’s one story I did on the topic a few months ago, highlighting operations that Massachusetts companies like Cabot Corp and Thermo Fisher Scientific have built up in China.
  • Romney: China has interest very much like ours. They don't want war, protectionism. We can be a PARTNER of China #USvote
  • Obama: I will fight for your families, and I will work every single day to make sure America remains the greatest nation on Earth
  • Romney accuses Obama of investing in companies, not basic academic research. “Governor Romney, you keep trying to airbrush history here,” says Obama. “You’re wrong, Mr. President,” says Romney. “No, I am not wrong,” is the reply. They agree fact-checkers will sort it out.

    Romney says he wants to go forward, but not with policies of past four years. He then ticks through economic indexes that have gotten worse during administration. “It’s just a tragedy that in in a nation so prosperous as ours that the last four years have been so hard,” says Romney.
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