GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will square off one more time on Monday night with the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. With CBS News’ Bob Schieffer at the moderator’s post, it promises to be a well-planned and thoroughly revealing exchange of ideas as his questions on foreign policy are put to the candidates.
The biggest difference from the last two debates will be how Romney and Obama responded to Schieffer and one another while sitting down. There will be no on-foot drama as we’ve seen, especially in the last debate where the two were allowed to pace the stage and even invade one another’s physical space. Of course, stomping on one another’s words with their own comments is still possible – or more appropriately stated, is more likely.
While the topic of foreign policy may have been somewhat of a “yawner” to some in past elections, it is actually a vast and highly-interesting topic in recent years with 9/11 and other contemporary issues from abroad. In these times, hearing how the president and his challenger envision dealing with the rest of the world should be paramount to voters, even to those who appear to be interested in single social issues or the economy. And actually, the economy comes into play when the candidates discuss foreign policy because national security and America’s vying for the top position in the world’s politics takes money – lots of money.
From what moderator Schieffer has already revealed to the media, the candidates can be expected to respond to the nation’s concerns regarding the Libyan attack on 9/11, the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran, the tensions in Israel, the political and financial elevation of China in recent times, and, of course, the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Additionally, their varying opinions of dealing with Syria will be watched by globally-aware viewers with critical interest as well.
Viewers should be able to get a clear difference between the philosophies and proposed policies of President Obama and Mitt Romney. Being specific with plans for the future regarding foreign policy is vital to coming across well this time around. Unpopular specifics would be more deadly to a candidate than no specifics. So hopefully, one can expect Romney to be very detailed as he counts out his plans again: one, two, three…
It is expected that with each proposal by Obama, Romney or Scheiffer will logically ask, in effect: “Why haven’t we – as a nation – done this already since you’ve been in office four years already?” While this may be a difficult moment for Obama, this should give Romney the space needed to be more candid with his proposals – without having to defend why he hasn’t made a progressive move yet.
It has been forecast that Obama may have an easier time of it with this debate because he is allowed to speak from the experience he now has regarding foreign policy, after four years in the Oval Office. In turn, it is expected that Mitt Romney’s lack of experience in foreign affairs may present him with a difficult challenge at this debate. I don’t think so. There are enough global concerns regarding the United States right now that the discussion can turn to criticism of Obama with the time he has had in office. After all, there are only so many times in 90 minutes he can remind viewers about the death of Osama bin Laden – his claim to “foreign affairs” fame. Romney’s ideas – if presented fresh and enthusiastically hopeful for America’s future – can be the final bump he needs to win this election.
Again, economics is intertwined with America’s foreign affairs, obviously, and this should give Romney plenty of opportunity to attack Obama’s failed economic policies of the past four years with our current national debt being a huge deterrent to America’s position of strength in the world.
Though, on the surface, it appears that this is Obama’s topic, I believe Romney can and will effectively show strength with doable plans compounded by due criticism of the president’s past actions – thereby winning the debate.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.