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Final Presidential Debate Has High Tensions From Start

Michelle Toh |
October 22, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. PDT

Assistant News Editor


(Neon Tommy Screenshot)
(Neon Tommy Screenshot)
Tensions ran high at the beginning of Monday night’s final presidential debate on foreign policy held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. 

Moderator Bob Schieffer began the discussion with the topic of the changing Middle East and “the new face of terrorism.”

When asked about the implications of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, Romney said, “It is to see a complete change in the structure and the environment of the Middle East.” He cited the Arab Spring as an indication of hope for change, particularly in the role of women in the Middle East. In the last weeks of their respective campaigns, both candidates have placed heavy emphasis on women’s rights

SEE ALSO: Mitt Romney's Views On Syria: Arm The Rebels, Keep U.S. Military Out

“Thirty thousand civilians have been killed by the military there, in Libya, an attack by terrorists of some kind on our people there, a Muslim Brotherhood member as the president of Egypt. 

“I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden, but we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Romney declared, stating the need for a “comprehensive and robust strategy.” He cited the Benghazi incident and the election of Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi to Egyptian President as current problems in the Middle East.

“My first job as commander in chief is to keep the American people safe,” Obama responded. He spoke about the importance of building international alliances to combat future threats. He was quick to point out that his immediate response to the Benghazi attack was to increase security and to investigate the root of the incident, an issue the two candidates have sparred over before. 

“You had tens of thousands of Libyans in Benghazi saying, ‘America’s our friend,’” Obama added.

“My strategy is pretty straightforward,” Romney said. “To go after the bad guys.”

He said that America had to help build “civilized societies” in Middle Eastern countries, particularly in terms of building better education, gender equality and the rule of law.

Obama pointed out the inconsistency of Romney’s proposals, saying that he was sending “mixed messages, both to our troops and our allies.” 

“I have to tell you that, you know, your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East,” the president said. 

“But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.” 

“It is not a recipe for American strength or keeping America safe,” Obama said.

Romney responded by telling the president, “Attacking me is not the agenda.” 

“Here’s one thing I’ve learned as commander in chief,” Obama said conclusively. “You’ve got to be clear both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean.”


Find more Neon Tommy coverage on the final presidential debate here.



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