23 Oct 2012

Obama seen to beat Romney on foreign policy

9:58 pm on 23 October 2012

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have come face to face in their last television showdown before Americans choose who will be their president.

The two sparred over foreign policy but both seemed keen to bring the discussion back to the US economy and domestic affairs.

Two instant polls declared the President a comfortable winner over his Republican rival.

The high-stakes debate on Tuesday strayed repeatedly into domestic policy with the Republican candidate seeking to bolster his argument that President Obama bungled the US economic recovery with high unemployment and rising debt.

Neither man threw a knock-out punch or made a noticeable gaffe in the 90-minute encounter at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, CNN reports.

This was reflected in a CNN poll that said Mr Obama won, 48% to Mr Romney's 40%.

But Mr Obama says his challenger was "all over the map" on foreign policy, while Mr Romney says the president had failed to uphold American global leadership, the BBC reports.

Mr Romney highlights civilian deaths in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in Egypt, the rise of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa, Iran's nuclear programme, and last month's Libya US consulate attack as examples of the "tumult" that the Obama administration had allowed to overtake the region.

"I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaeda," the former Massachusetts governor says.

"But we can't kill our way out of this... We must have a comprehensive strategy."

But Mr Obama hit back, the BBC reports.

The president says he is glad Mr Romney recognises the threat posed by al-Qaeda, reminding him that he had earlier this year cast Russia as America's number one geo-political foe.

"Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s," the US president says.

Mr Obama says Mr Romney backed the Iraq invasion, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction.

He also accuses him of having advocated a continued troop presence in Iraq, opposing nuclear treaties with Russia, even when they had broad bipartisan backing, and of flip-flopping over whether the US should have a timeline for leaving Afghanistan.

"What we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map," Mr Obama says.