In the third and final debate before the presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney exchanged harsh words Monday over how to best guide the nation's foreign policy, attacking each other on experience and vision while attempting to delineate their own differences on issues like Iran and Syria.
In the 90-minute debate at Florida's Lynn University, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney laid out their foreing policy platforms before the two-week sprint to Election Day.
From here on out, each campaign will be powered by adrenaline, a boatload of campaign cash and a determination to reach Nov. 6 with no would-have, should-have regrets.
The candidates will vastly accelerate their travel, ad spending and grass-roots mobilizing in a race that's likely to cost upward of $2 billion by the time it all ends.
All the focus now is on locking down support in the nine states whose electoral votes are still considered up for grabs. Obama campaigns Tuesday in Florida and Ohio while Romney heads west to Nevada and Colorado.
Neither candidate scored a knockout punch in their third and last debate as both men reined in the confrontational sniping that had marked their last testy encounter. Here are their arguments, point by point.China
Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney say they want America to have a positive relationship with China, but that Beijing must play by international trade rules.
Romney repeated his threat to designate China a currency manipulator and punish it for intellectual property theft but also said China can be a partner. He said, "that does not mean they can just roll all over us and take our jobs."
Obama described China as both an adversary and a potential international partner. He defended his record in addressing China's trade violations, saying his administration had brought more complaints than George W. Bush did in two terms.
Neither candidate discussed the deeper challenges of China's rise: that it built a competitive economy while maintaining an authoritarian political system.Afghanistan
Republican Mitt Romney is backing President Barack Obama's plan to pull American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Romney says the Afghan troop surge that Obama ordered has been successful and a training program for Afghan forces is on track. As a result, he says the U.S. will be able to make a transition at the end of 2014 and make sure U.S. troops come home. The Republican nominee has previously criticized Obama for setting a timeline for ending the war.
Obama tripled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan upon taking office. He has said the U.S. will maintain a civilian presence in Afghanistan after its military operations end.Apology Tour
President Barack Obama is pushing back on rival Mitt Romney's suggestion that the president has apologized for the United States on the world stage. Obama called the accusation the "biggest whopper" of the campaign. Obama said he would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and had coordinated an international coalition to impose economic sanctions on Tehran. Obama said that under his presidency, the world is more united and Iran has been weakened.
Romney insisted Obama had apologized for the U.S., noting the president had given a speech in Egypt early in his term saying America had been "derisive" and at times had dictated to other nations.Iran
President Barack Obama says published reports that the United States and Iran are planning to meet one-on-one after the election are "not true." Obama says the United States will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but he will not engage in negotiations that go nowhere. Obama adds that "the clock is ticking."
On Saturday, the White House said it is prepared to talk one-on-one with Iran to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran's reported pursuit of nuclear weapons, but there's no agreement now to meet.The New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iran have agreed in principle to negotiations. The White House denied that any such agreement had been reached.Military Spending
President Barack Obama says his military spending is "driven by strategy" not by politics.The president rejected criticism from Republican Mitt Romney, who says Obama wants to cut the military by $1 trillion. Obama disputed that figure, but said spending needs to be based on the capabilities required by the military, not just budgets.
Obama accused Romney of calling for increases in military spending that the Pentagon doesn't want. Romney says he would boost the number of naval ships because the U.S. fleet is the smallest since 1917. The President shot back, saying that was because technology has changed the nature of the military.
Romney said he would pay for increases in military spending by getting rid of Obama's health care overhaul and other programs he deems unnecessary.U.S. Role in the World
Romney said the U.S. has the "responsibility and privilege" to promote peace throughout the world. But he said domestic issues like the sluggish economy and debt had weakened U.S. leadership. Romney said he would not cut military spending as president and would work to strengthen international alliances.
Obama said the U.S. was the "one indispensable nation" in the world and is stronger now than when he took office. He said the U.S. should rebuild its economy by keeping jobs in the country rather than shipping them overseas.Syria
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney say they are both opposed to sending U.S. troops to Syria to end the violence there.
Obama says that while attacks by government forces against Syrian citizens is heartbreaking, getting the U.S. "entangled militarily" would be a serious step.
Romney essentially agreed, saying he doesn't want the U.S. military involved in Syria. Romney said the United States should be playing a leadership role in identifying responsible opposition groups in Syria and making sure they have the arms they need to fight President Bashar Assad's regime.
Obama says the U.S. is working with allies in the region to learn more about the opposition. But he says giving heavy weapons to those groups is not "a simple proposition."Extremism
Republican Mitt Romney says he praises rival President Barack Obama for ordering the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but adds that the United States "can't kill our way out of this mess" of religious extremism.
Romney criticized Obama's policies toward Islamic extremism. He says that Obama missed an opportunity during the Arab Spring and says that Obama has not done enough to block Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Obama says Romney has not been in a position to execute foreign policy, but adds that his positions to this point have "been all over the map." Romney says his strategy "is pretty straight forward: go after the bad guys."
For the CBS Fact-checker on the foreign policy debate, click here.
President Obama scored a clear two-to-one victory against Mitt Romney during the final presidential debate Monday night, according to a CBS News instant poll of uncommitted voters.
Immediately after it wrapped, 53 percent of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Mr. Obama; 23 percent said Romney won, and 24 percent felt the debate was a tie. Uncommitted voters in similar polls gave the first debate to Romney by a large margin, but said Mr. Obama edged the GOP nominee in the second debate.
Both candidates enjoyed a bump regarding whom the voters trust to handle international crisis. Before the debate, 46 percent said they would trust Romney, and 58 percent said they would trust the president. Those numbers spiked to 49 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
Overwhelmingly, the same group of voters said President Obama would do a better job than Romney on terrorism and national security, 64 percent to 36 percent. But they were evenly split, 50-50, on which candidate would better handle China.
The "uncommitted voters" polled are voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds.
This CBS News poll was conducted online using GfK's web-enabled KnowledgePanel?, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 521 uncommitted voters who have agreed to watch the debate. Uncommitted voters are those who don't yet know who they will vote for, or who have chosen a candidate but may still change their minds. GfK's KnowledgePanel participants are initially chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel?. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection. This is a scientifically representative poll of uncommitted voters' reaction to the presidential debate. The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the entire sample.