What to expect from the final presidential debate

By Josh Furlong | Posted - Oct. 22, 2012 at 7:29 a.m.



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BOCA RATON, Fla. — In a presidential race where the rhetoric and concern for voters has been mostly about the economy, President Barack Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney will discuss foreign policy issues for the final debate of the presidential race.

The debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face The Nation," who will have the difficult task of controlling the discussion between President Obama and Romney. Both candidates have shown they have no problem interrupting the moderator or each other to get their point across.

The second presidential debate was a highly-contested battle, with both candidates passionately discussing their position and their opposition of the opposing candidate. The final debate looks to be an extension of the second debate, with both candidates looking to get their final word in before voters go to the voting booth on Election Day.

And while the final debate will be focused on foreign policy issues, the condition of the United States economy will be indirectly relevant, with gasoline prices increasing over tension in the Middle East, conflicts with China and their "unfair" trading practices and the various recessions in Europe, which affect U.S. manufacturers.

Both candidates will likely touch on the various topics regarding foreign policy, but will likely spend the bulk of the debate diverting back to domestic economic issues.

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President Obama and Romney spent the weekend mostly out of the public spotlight as they prepared for the final debate, which is likely the last opportunity nationally to gain an advantage in the race. On Sunday, campaign surrogates for both candidates gave voters a glimpse into the debate strategies for the two campaigns.

Republicans once again condemned the Obama administration for their handling of the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, saying the president was remiss in his duties.

"Here's what's troubling: what's most troubling about this is that one of the narrative the Obama campaign has laid out is that bin Laden is dead, they've bragged about that forever, and that al-Qaida is in retreat," Sen. Marco Rubio said on CBS's "Face The Nation." And you start to wonder, did they basically say ‘do not allow any story to emerge that counters that narrative?' Is that why for two weeks they told us that the Libyan incident in Benghazi was a popular uprising and not a terrorist attack, because it ran counter to their campaign narrative? I hope that that's not true. But that's what you start to wonder about."

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Democrats countered the arguments Sunday, saying Republicans are trying to turn a deadly assault on Americans into a political talking point. Senior Obama Advisor David Axelrod called out Romney on "Meet The Press," saying the former governor "tried to exploit" the Libyan situation for political gain. Axelrod also condemned the decision of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to release documents revealing several Libyans working with the U.S.

Romney was given an opportunity to attack the president on Libya in the second debate, but was bogged down by the timeline of when President Obama classified the attack in Benghazi as an act of terrorism. It was a question Romney knew would come up and likely prepared well in advance for, but the delivery was not effective. Expect Romney to attack the president again on how he handled the attacks in Libya.

President Obama will look to come out with similar passion Monday night, especially with national and battleground state polls tightening.

The Gender Gap
By Randall Jeppesen
SALT LAKE CITY – National polls show more women in favor of re-electing President Barack Obama, while the majority of men favor Mitt Romney.
A New York Times analysis shows that there is a large gender gap between the two candidates. If the different polls are averaged, Pres. Obama leads by 9 points among women. Romney leads by 9 points among men.
If those numbers hold, it would historically be among the larger gender gaps in recent history. The biggest gender gap came in 2000, when Al Gore won by 11 points among women, and George W. Bush won by 9 points among men.

RealClearPolitics, which averages polling data around the country, has the president leading Romney by 0.2 percentage points nationally. Many national polls have the candidates tied, but Gallup is giving Romney a seven-point advantage — a figure that keeps growing. Following the president's flat performance in the first debate, Romney has surged in the polls, seeing a major swing in national polls, but most importantly, in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Colorado. Neither candidate appeared to receive a bump in the polls following the second debate, and it's not expected that either candidate will get a major bump following the final debate unless there is a major gaffe or other unforeseen event.

The presidential election will likely come down to the wire, with the final debate likely having little influence on the final outcome on Nov. 6, but it will still be worth a watch.

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Josh Furlong

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