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Third presidential debate preview: 5 things to watch for

7:16 AM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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David Jackson, USA TODAY

It's the third and final round.

President Obama and Mitt Romney meet for their last debate Monday night, a 90-minute session devoted to foreign policy. It takes place in the swing state of Florida, at Lynn University in Boca Raton. The moderator is Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

USA TODAY will have full coverage across all of its platforms. NewsChannel 5 will carry the debate live at 8 p.m. and it will also be streamed on KSDK.COM. 

Here are five things to look for in this final Obama-Romney clash:

Obama touts his record. Expect to hear the president talk about winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the multinational operation that toppled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. And how many times will Obama cite the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden? The president is also expected to emphasize Romney's lack of foreign policy experience.

Romney disputes Obama's record. Like running mate Paul Ryan at the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate, Romney may well cite anti-U.S. protest in a string of Middle East nations. Also look for Romney to question the Obama administration's handling of the recent attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, the rebellion in Syria, and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Libya. The shifting stories about the cause of the Sept. 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans also came up during the second debate last week. Obama officials first attributed the violence to the protest of an anti-Islam film, then days later called it a pre-planned terrorist attack. But Romney also flubbed the issue in that last debate, forgetting that Obama had used the term "acts of terror" the day after the killings.

Iran. The last Obama-Romney battle takes place amid reports that the Obama administration may soon enter into one-on-one talks with Iran, seeking to dissuade it from pursuing the means to make nuclear weapons. Obama says economic sanctions have pressured Iran to reconsider its nuclear ambitions. Romney says Obama has done little to slow Iran's drive toward nuclear weapons, and has left long-time ally Israel in the lurch over the Iranian threat.

How much talk about the economy? Yes, it's a debate about foreign affairs, but don't be surprised if the U.S. economy pops up -- either candidate can argue that it has a direct effect on global affairs. Romney has criticized Obama over the $16 trillion-plus national debt, and will likely challenge the president over the prospect of major Pentagon cuts. Obama says Republicans have not cooperated on a debt reduction plan, and that the United States is recovering from the severe recession he inherited from predecessor George W. Bush.

USA TODAY

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