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Candidates To Tackle Foreign Policy In Final Presidential Debate

How Monday Night Goes In Florida Could Determine Who Wins The Election
Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama (file/credit: Ethan Miller/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama (file/credit: Ethan Miller/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Monday night marks the third and final showdown between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

And with the race in a dead heat, what happens at the debate at Lynn University could well determine the outcome of the election, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported.

The build-up, the excitement, the anticipation — it feels like we’re awaiting a heavyweight prizefight. And most pundits expect Florida to live up to its billing as a battleground state on Monday night, with a verbal slugfest between two men with perhaps nothing less the future of this nation, and the world, in the balance.

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It’s appropriate that the debate is being held at a university for President Obama and Romney find themselves at Lynn University after spending days cramming on foreign policy. Historians said presidential elections are rarely determined by debates, but this one may well be.

CBS News’ Bob Schieffer will be the moderator.

“There’s no question this one’s going to be important, maybe as important as any debate, simply because this race is so close,” Schieffer said.

Not so long ago, the president was seen as having a sizeable advantage in foreign policy. He ended the war in Iraq as promised, he approved the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and continuous predator attacks on al Qaeda leadership have eroded their global capabilities.

But last month’s attack on the Libyan embassy that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the administration’s unclear explanation for it, has given Romney ammunition.

“What’s most troubling about this is one of the narratives that the Obama campaign has laid out is that bin Laden is dead, they bragged about that forever, and that al Qaeda is in retreat. And you start to wonder did they basically say to not allow any story to emerge that counters that narrative?” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said.

Romney is also expected to take swings at the president’s dealings with Israel and Iran.

In addition to defending his policies overseas, Obama is also expected to tout the improving economy as evidence his domestic policies are working, even in hard-hit Florida. His message: a vote for Romney is a vote against the middle-class.

“His singular economic policy is a tax cut that gives a $250,000 tax cut to those at the top, forcing the middle class to pay for it.  That’s not a way to move this economy forward,” Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said.

New Yorkers weighed in Monday afternoon on the issues that will dominate the debate. When it comes to foreign policy, Corey told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon he often feels like Americans are kept in the dark about decisions.

“Whenever I read about Syria, Libya, what we should do, I just always think there’s no way I have all the information. Like, whenever the president makes a decision, he’s privy to so much more than we are that it feels really like back-seat driving to orchestrate,” he said. “For these debates, I like more, just, what are the principles by which you would make decisions. That’s what I’m more interested in, than specific answers.”

Alex was looking for specifics on Syria, and he was glad to see the entire debate focused on foreign policy.

“It can’t be ignored, our influence on the rest of the world. The global eye on our election is unbelievable,” he said.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reports

It is widely believed the candidates split the first two debates, with Romney judged the victor in the first and Obama in the second.

It should be noted it was 50 years ago Monday that the Cuban missile crisis began. Cuba is just 90 miles off the Florida coast. Historians credit President John F. Kennedy with diffusing the incredibly dangerous situation using a combination of back-channel negotiations and a strong ultimatum. There may be no better example of how crucial a president’s understanding of other people, and other governments, can be.

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