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Hina P. Ansari

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The Not-So-Foreign Policy Debate

Posted: 10/23/2012 7:11 am

The stage was set at Boca Raton's Lynn University. The desk dusted, chairs put in place and zingers primed and ready for volleying. CBS's Bob Schieffer the evening's moderator, laid down the house rules to ensure that this "debate is worthy of the Presidency."

Oh, and it was supposed to be about Foreign Policy. Right? Well it kind of was. Kind of.

With two weeks to go to Election Day, and in case you were wondering if there are still undecided voters out there (yes, there are...really people?) both candidates knew that their endgame greatly hinged on this final debate. It's the final primetime showdown before the ballot is cast. And thanks largely to Obama's cardboard cutout performance at the first debate, the race is now in a dead heat.

First I was curious how quickly certain points would be brought up -- key vote-getting words.

So this is how it all started, all within the first 30 minutes of the 90 minute performance, I mean, debate:

9:01: Libya introduced as first question.

9:07: Obama's mention of Osama bin Laden.

9:15: Obama delivers "Israel is our true friend and our greatest ally of the region" line.

9:16: Question about Syria enters debate.

9:20: Gaddafi mentioned by Obama

9:24: Israel mentioned by Obama

9:31 Israel mentioned again by Obama. *Israel was mentioned a total of 34 times that night.*

There were various forms of Mitt who showed up last night as well. His contradictory notes from just last night's debate, at least it kept the next hour of the debate pretty interesting snapping me out of the snooze-fest haze of the first 30 minutes.

Mitt On Osama bin Laden:

"I congratulate [Obama] on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaeda. But we can't kill our way out of this mess... We must have a comprehensive strategy."

Mitt On Battling Extremists:

"Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to -- to kill them, to take them out of the picture."

Be Nice To Your Teacher, It's a Matter of National Security:

The strangest thing happened. Just as Obama was listing his laundry list of foreign policy achievements, challenges and his systematic familiarity with that facet of the presidency, Romney basically redefined foreign policy by veering into his talking points about strengthening small businesses, professing his love for teachers and Obamacare. Yes that's right.

According to Romney, American grade school teachers are part of American foreign policy. Confused? Wait, there's more: Ohio voters were clearly courted as well, taking Romney's lead (one of the very few as Romney basically agreed with most of Obama's points that night) the President followed suit to ensure his points/rebuttals also got airtime and voters' ears, turning that portion into Debate #1 Redux with endless regurgitation of success/failures in employment rates, love of teachers, job prospects for veterans and the such.

Schieffer kept trying to bring the debate back to the theme of the evening (foreign policy, remember?) even noting that everything that was being said in front of him, was all said before (score 1 to Bob).

Zingers

Then there were the hilarious zingers. And lots of them. Mostly from Obama and a few failed hits from Romney. But I have to give serious props to the President's crack debate team because it was -- as they say -- "Gold, Jerry! Gold!"

First there was the mention of horses and bayonets by Obama (and you thought Romney's mention of Big Bird in the first debate was random), when he responded to Romney's concern about the current state of the nation's military. Snarkiness ensued and a peppier Commander-in-Chief delivered this gem: "I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them."
Whoa. Snap.

Obama wasn't done. He then went all WWE on Romney with respect to his foreign policy plans (yes it FINALLY went back to whole point of the debate) with this gem: "The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back. The Cold War's been over for 20 years." (You can hear Obama dropping the mic a la Chris Rock.)

Dictators? Not In Mitt's America:

Apparently to Mitt, America hasn't really had a history of propping up or courting dictators. So The Shah of Iran, Mubarak, Gaddafi don't count I guess.

Mitt's Counterfeit Education:

I'm glad I watch these debates because it's an educational tool for me. Did you know that China makes counterfeit stuff? Have to thank Mitt for that 411.

And my favorite Mitt:

Mahatma Mitt:

The most obvious move to the centre was Mitt's insistence that he was about peace and not a war hawk for his nation, which he noted, was the "Hope of the Earth." But wait a second, he also views in this order: Russia, Iran, Libya, Syria and Pakistan as troubling terrorist infused hotspots. I'll leave this for you to figure out.

Oh and Benghazi? India? Guantanamo Bay? Not mentioned once. Maybe they were forgotten in a binder backstage.

Loading Slideshow...
  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gestures beside his wife Ann following the third and final presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the crucial toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gestures following the third and final presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the crucial toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama,

    President Barack Obama, left, gives a thumbs-up as he is joined on stage by first lady Michelle Obama, right, at the end of the last debate against Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney smile during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking)

  • President Barack Obama greets members of the family of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking)

  • Barak Obama, Michelle Obama

    President Barack Obama kisses his wife Michelle after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Ann Romney, Michelle Obama

    President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they walk off stage as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and his wife Ann, say goodbye to the crowd before departing after the third presidential debate on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama kiss after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama greets members of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's family after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama wave to the audience after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • Barack Obama, Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and President Barack Obama, left, greet members of the audience at the end of the final debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama shakes hands with the audience after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Win McNamee)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, right, and President Barack Obama shake hands with audience members following the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • President Barack Obama and Michelle wave to members of the audience following the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Barack Obama, Mitt Romney,

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama walks past each other on stage at the end of the last debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Ann Romney, Mitt Romney,

    Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, laughs as she pulls her husband away from the edge of the stage after the third presidential debate with President Barack Obama at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney meet family members after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, shakes hands with President Barack Obama following their third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • President Barack Obama, left, hugs his wife Michelle while Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney kisses his wife Ann following the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Barack Obama, Mitt Romney

    President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pass each other after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • President Barack Obama, right, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shake hands following their third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the crucial toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, shakes hands with President Barack Obama following their third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • President Barack Obama makes his closing argument during the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) speaks during a debate with U.S. President Barack Obama as moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS (R) 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. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (not seen) 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. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama debates Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The final debate before the November 6 election is focusing on foreign policy. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during the third and final presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the critical toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Barack Obama, right, speaks to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama react to moderator Bob Schieffer during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama laugh after being interrupted by moderator Bob Schieffer during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a debate with U.S. President Barack Obama 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. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (not seen) 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. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point during the third presidential debate with President Barack Obama at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • President Barack Obama speaks during the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • President Barack Obama smiles as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking)

  • Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Win McNamee)

  • President Barack Obama listens as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) debates with U.S. President Barack Obama 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. (Photo by Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 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. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens as moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS speaks during the debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 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. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney debates on October 22, 2012 during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. The final debate before the November 6 election is focusing on foreign policy. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney listens during the third and final presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the critical toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. AFP PHOTO Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Barack Obama speaks during the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 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. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney participate in the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The final debate before the November 6 election is focusing on foreign policy. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama debates in the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The final debate before the November 6 election is focusing on foreign policy. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Barack Obama speaks during the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election

    BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a debate with U.S. President Barack Obama 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. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the third presidential debate with President Barack Obama at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, listens to President Barack Obama during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

 

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