Obama, Romney fight over Mideast policy in last debate

The third and last presidential debate.
GETTY IMAGES

U.S.
President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney met on
Monday in Boca Raton, Florida, for the third and last presidential
debate, focused on foreign policy, ahead of the November 6 election.

Below are some highlights of what the two candidates said.

ON IRAN:

Obama:
“There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this
where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did
but you’d say them louder and somehow that would make a difference.”

“We’re not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere and I’ve been very clear to them.”

Romney:
“I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we’ve had with
Iran is that they have looked at this administration and felt that the
administration was not as strong as it needed to be. I think they saw
weakness where they had expected to find American strength.

“We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran and we should not have wasted these four years.”

ON THE U.S. MILITARY

Romney:
“Our military is second to none in the world. We’re blessed with
terrific soldiers, and extraordinary technology and intelligence. But
the idea of a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget
cuts to the military would change that.”

Obama:
“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how
our military works. You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have
fewer ships than we had in 1916. Well Governor, we also have also fewer
horses and bayonets. Because the nature of the military has changed. …
The question is not a game of battleship or counting ships, it’s what
are our capabilities.”

ON AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE WORLD

Romney:
“Our purpose is to make sure the world is peaceful. We want a peaceful
planet, we want people to enjoy their lives and know they’re going to
have a bright and prosperous future and not be at war. That’s our
purpose. And the mantle of leadership for the promoting the principles
of peace has fallen to America. We didn’t ask for it, but it’s an honor
we have it.

“But for us to be able
to promote those principles of peace requires us to be strong. And that
begins with a strong economy at home and unfortunately the economy is
not stronger.”

Obama: “The world
needs a stronger America and it is stronger than when I came into
office. Because we ended the war in Iraq, we were able to refocus our
attention on not only the terrorism threat but also beginning a
transition process in Afghanistan. It also allowed us to refocus on alliances and relationships that have been neglected for a decade.

“And
Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger, in Asia, in
Europe, in Africa, with Israel, where we have an unprecedented military
and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.

“But
what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so that we can
start rebuilding America. And that’s what my plan does.”

ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Romney:
“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 to reject this radical violent
extremism.”

“The key that we’re going to have to pursue as a pathway is to get the Muslim world to be able reject extremism on its own.”

Obama:
“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.”

“What
we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong and steady
leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map,
and unfortunately that’s the kind of opinions that you’ve offered
throughout the campaign and it is not a recipe for American strength.”

Romney:
“Attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how
we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East,
and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this
violence.”

Obama: “I know you
haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy but every
time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should
have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of
mass destruction.”

ON SYRIA

Romney: “I don’t want our military involved in Syria. I don’t think there’s a necessity to put the military there at this stage, I don’t anticipate that in the future.”

Obama:
“Governor Romney said he doesn’t have different ideas and that’s
because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing, which is try to
promote a moderate Syrian leadership and an effective transition so that
we get (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad out. That’s the kind of
leadership we’ve shown and that’s the kind of leadership we’ll continue
to show.”


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