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Third Presidential Debate to Cover Foreign Policy

As the countdown to Election Day continues, President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney diligently prepare to duel in their final televised debate tonight.

Millions of Americans plan to watch the event, moderated by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer and hosted by Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Debate Topics

According to the debate commission, topics selected by Schieffer for the third presidential debate include: America’s role in the world; international policy with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Iran; the Middle East and terrorism; and the rise of China and tomorrow’s world. The 90-minute debate will have six 15-minute segments, each one focusing on a pre-chosen topic. In contrast with the second debate held Oct. 16, the candidates will sit at a table without the freedom to move around.

Tonight’s debate will focus primarily on foreign policy and national security. Both are heated subject matters, especially in the wake of the terrorist attack Sept. 11 on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans died. Analysts expect Romney to confront Obama with questions and criticism regarding the way his administration handled the attack.

It is likely the debate will be even more intense than the previous two debates held this month in light of several recent world events. Additional heated topics may include Friday’s assassination in Lebanon of Brig.-Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in a massive car bombing and the civil war in Syria, as well as the recent allegation that bargaining talks are underway between the U.S. and Iran regarding the future of its nuclear program.

Differences Between Tonight’s and Previous Debates

This final debate between Obama and Romney is expected to be quite different from the previous two as both candidates will be eager to demonstrate their ability to handle global issues.

The first presidential debate, held Oct. 3, was dedicated mostly to domestic and economic issues such as tax cuts, the importance of small business, the deficit and making college more affordable. The Oct. 16 debate focused on economic issues with special attention paid to taxes and the middle class. It also addressed the 23 million Americans still out of work, as well as the job future for young Americans. Questions from the audience included immigration reform, energy programs, foreign policy and pay equity for women.

While the plan for tonight’s debate is to focus on foreign policy and national security, the American economy will still be an integral concern for many debate watchers. Foreign policy affects all aspects of American life, and relationships with foreign countries have long-term financial implications. From the trade deficit in China to the rising price of oil, tonight’s debate will cover topics essential to the future of American programs and the economy.

The debate could prove crucial to the election in November, as a poll from Saturday shows that Obama has only a narrow lead against Romney.


Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].

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    1. Commission on Presidential Debates. (2012, October 12). Moderator Announces Topics for the Third Presidential Debate. Retrieved from,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=45&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01detailtemplate=newspage&cntnt01returnid=80
    2. Gearan, A. & Fahrenthold, D. (2012, October 21). In final debate, Obama and Romney to offer differing views of America’s role in the world. Retrieved from
    3. Epstein, J. (2012, October 20). White House denies agreement on U.S., Iran nuclear talks. Retrieved from
    4. Holland, S. & Youngman, S. (2012, October 21). With 16 days to go, Obama and Romney neck and neck. Retrieved from
    5. Obama photo: mistydawnphoto /
    6. Romney photo: Maria Dryfhout /