The third and final presidential debate is over, after President Obama and Mitt Romney traded blows Monday night in a 90-minute set-to dedicated solely to discussing foreign policy.
Below, we run down the debate’s top four moments, when sparks flew, and the candidates drew sharp distinctions with each other, or landed the one-liners that will be replayed over again on Tuesday. (Did we miss anything? The comments section awaits.)
* Obama: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” From the outset, Obama went on offense against Romney, lashing the Republican’s remark earlier this year that Russia is the U.S.’s “number one geopolitical foe.” The president proceeded to rip Romney’s approach to foreign policy. “Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney rebutted.
* From foreign to domestic. Even at a debate about foreign policy, it wasn’t long before the discussion was back on issue number one this election cycle: The economy. Romney, arguing that a robust foreign policy requires strength back home, criticized the president’s stewardship. For the better part of 15 minutes Monday night, this debate sounded much like the previous two. ”Let me get back to foreign policy,” moderator Bob Schieffer interjected at one point.
* Obama: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets” than we did in 1916. After Romney vowed not to cut the military’s budget by a trillion dollars and warned about the danger of the U.S. Navy being ”smaller now than at any time since 1917,” Obama landed a memorable line in an effort to paint the Republican as out of step with present times.
* Extended exchange over Iran. Romney and Obama agreed about the importance of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But from there, they didn’t agree on much more. Romney said Iran is “four years closer” to a nuclear weapon while Obama defended the economic impact of the sanctions for which he has pressed. (Romney countered with a call for the sanctions to be tightened.) Obama also denied a New York Times report that the U.S. and Iran have agreed in principle to one-on-one talks about the Iranian nuclear program. “Those are reports in a newspaper. They are not true,” he said.