Foreign policy will be the topic for Monday’s third and final official Presidential debate, organized and hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The debate will be held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. The debate starts at 9 p.m. (ET) and will be moderated by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer.
Both campaigns have spent a majority of their time between the second and third debates discussing their positions on several hot-button foreign policy issues. A majority of these foreign policy debate topics have already been touched on at the previously. However, Monday’s 90-minute showdown will provide an opportunity to go deeper into topics only briefly mentioned before. Some likely foreign policy debate topics include the Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the strategy in Afghanistan.
Foreign Policy Engagement – Syria
The ongoing crisis in Syria presents difficult diplomatic hurdles for both candidates. Direct military intervention has been avoided by both candidates but the extent to which Obama or Romney is willing to engage China or Russia via the United Nations is still murky. The debate is sure to clarify each candidates’ long-term strategy in regards to Syria.
Nuclear Threat – Iran
Media coverage of Iran’s nuclear program has exploded in recent months, making Iran a primary topic of discussion for the two candidates. Romney will likely emphasize the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, “the has only become worse” under the President. He will likely reaffirm his commitment to keep Israel safe, even if it requires military action. Obama will likely underscore his support for economic sanctions in Iran; sanctions that Vice President Joe Biden called ‘crippling.’ Fact-checkers have rebutted some of the Romney/Ryan criticism of the sanctions, which may cause Romney to adopt a somewhat different strategy against the President’s sanctions.
Catastrophe – Libya
Since the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, the Romney campaign has been critical of the President’s response to the event. Although Obama has already admitted an intelligence error surrounding the catastrophe, it is likely that Romney will attempt to revisit Obama’s alleged mishandling of the crisis.
Free Trade Agreements
Both Romney and Obama are in favor of free trade agreements. In the past, Romney has accused Obama of, “not sign[ing] one new free-trade agreement.” CNN fact-checked the statement and found it to be false. How both candidates attempt to distinguish themselves from here is anyone’s guess.
European Banking Crisis
Romney will have to combat his poor showing abroad during the 2012 summer Olympics. Obama’s popularity with Europe is still high, though it has dropped in recent years. Convincing voters that the Romney/Ryan ticket will be well-received abroad should prove difficult for the Governor, but may actually play to his benefit in a large portion of the electorate.