Mitt Romney and Barack Obama faced off Monday evening, debating foreign policy during their third and final showdown while Cal State Fullerton students watched the broadcast at the Pub in the Titan Student Union Underground.
Romney adviser Dan Senor told CNN Monday that Romney plans on scrapping his old in-your-face strategy in favor of a calmer demeanor for the last night of debates.
“I don’t think this is necessarily a debate where you’re going to see point-for-point scoring,” Senor told CNN.
Romney also planned on bringing up the attack on Benghazi, Libya once again for another bite at the apple.
Meanwhile, Obama hoped to capitalize on his experience with national security and foreign policy over the last three years, including the killing of international terrorist Osama bin Laden, according to Reuters.
Nicholas Fabrizio, 23, a business major, is one of the many independent and undecided voters in this year’s election that are looking to the debates for a deciding factor.
Fabrizio voted for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, but is not sure if he will take the red route this time around.
“I don’t always side with the Republicans. I am willing to go with whoever I feel will do the job correctly,” said Fabrizio.
He is wary of Obama’s economic record, but is no fan of Romney’s stance on social issues, including abortion.
“Since I disagree with Romney’s stance on most social issues, I’m not sure which way to go. Him being pro-life—I’m very against that. You can believe what you want to believe, but you shouldn’t make the rest of the country believe in that same idea,” said Fabrizio.
The debate viewing in the Pub was hosted by Associated Students Inc. and had several students in attendance, including Britney Bencomo, 24, a psychology major.
Bencomo said she is a proud Democrat who has been politically active from her younger days.
“Ever since I was able to vote I’ve really taken an interest because it affects me directly. Not only as a woman but as a student,” said Bencomo.
Even though she already plans on voting for Obama, Bencomo looks forward to the debate just to hear what the candidates will say.
Bob Schieffer, a CBS News correspondent was the moderator of the final debate, and opened by introducing the candidates and establishing the rules, such as the prohibition of reactions from the audience.
The opening question was about Middle Eastern terrorism, and more specifically the current controversy in Libya.
Romney pressed home his views on the use of non-violence in the region.
“We can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world reject this radical violent extremism,” said Romney.
In response, Obama reiterated his actions in foreign policy during his administration thus far, culminating in going over his reaction to the killings in Benghazi and firing his first salvo at Romney.
“Governor Romney… your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East,” said Obama.
Romney responded with his detailed plans for dealing with the Middle East once elected.
Both candidates went on to discuss policies concerning countries such as Iran and Russia, both of which Romney detailed aggressive strategies in dealing with both.
“Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin,” said Romney.
Obama reminded Romney of the importance of clear communications with fellow nations.
“You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean,” said Obama, accusing his opponent of flip-flopping on foreign affairs.
Later on, Romney accused Obama of not taking a tough enough stance on Iran, while the president stressed the importance of international cooperation with issuing sanctions to hostile countries.
Near the end, both candidates declared the importance of increasing the competitiveness of the United States, although Romney accused Obama of policies that were hurting the middle class.
“The policies of the last four years have seen incomes in America decline every year for middle-income families, now down $4,300 during your term, 23 million Americans still struggling to find a good job. When you came into office, 32 million people on food stamps—today 47 million people on food stamps,” said Romney.
At the close, both debaters imparted their closing arguments to the nation, asking for their votes on Nov. 6.
“You know, we’ve been through tough times, but we always bounce back because of our character, because we pull together,” said Obama.
“We need strong leadership. I’d like to be that leader, with your support. I’ll work with you. I’ll lead you in an open and honest way. And I ask for your vote,” said Romney.