An aggressive President Obama came out swinging at Monday night’s final debate in Boca Raton, Fla., walloping Mitt Romney as naive, inexperienced, dangerously hawkish, and consistently inconsistent on foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the Republican presidential nominee accused Obama of going on an “apology tour” and being “reckless” since taking office, which has in turn made America more unsafe than ever before.
In the beginning of the 90-minute slugfest, Obama launched an assault on Romney’s foreign policy, ripping the former Massachusetts governor for operating on an antiquated Cold War mentality.
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” said Obama, referring to Romney’s statement that America’s biggest geopolitical foe is Russia. “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.”
Time and again, Obama portrayed Romney as lacking foreign policy know-how. After Romney claimed that Obama’s Navy is too small, the president shot back:
You mention the Navy, and how we have fewer ships than 1916,” Obama said. “We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. “We have aircraft carriers; we have ships that go underwater; nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of ‘Battleship’ where we’re counting ships. It’s, what are our capabilities?
Romney, in turn, criticized Obama’s handling of the Arab Spring.
“We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Romney said, pointing to 30,000 deaths during a bloody civil war in Syria, not to mention the Sept. 11 attack at the U.S. consulate Libya.
On Afghanistan, Romney seemed to change his tune, saying he backed the president’s plan to pull U.S. troops out of the country by the end of 2014. He had previously ripped Obama for setting a timeline for ending the war.
When asked about Iran by CBS News moderator Bob Schieffer , Obama said the U.S. would stand by Israel’s side if it’s attacked, adding that his tough sanctions on Tehran have been working . Romney said he’d indict Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for genocide and repeated his claim that Iran is “four years closer to a nuclear weapon.”
Romney repeatedly said Obama was weak on foreign policy, even sending the wrong signal to Iranians when he went on an “apology tour” in the beginning stages of his presidency, and not visiting Israel.
Obama called the “apology tour” remark the “biggest whopper” on the campaign trail, and noted that he visited Israel several times as a presidential candidate.
The two rivals barely touched on China, only in the later moments of the face-off. Obama accused Romney of outsourcing American jobs to the communist nation when he ran venture capital firm Bain. Obama criticized Romney for outsourcing jobs to China while he was head of venture capital firm Bain. Romney said Obama has not done enough to brand China a “currency manipulator,” something he’d do on the first day if he’s elected.
A CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters found that 53% of respondents thought Obama won the debate, while 23% thought Romney won. Other snap polls found smaller margins for Obama.