Voters in search of zingers or stage-stalking were undoubtedly disappointed by the third and final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Held at Boca Raton, Fla. with CBS News’ Bob Shieffer moderating, Obama and Romney were nothing if not sober in their discussion of foreign policy.
Prior to the debate, a group of about 30 voters gathered in Columbia as Charles Bierbauer, Dean of USC’s College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, talked with State Treasurer Curtis Loftis about what to expect.
Loftis was Romney’s state chair in South Carolina and said he thought the former Massachusetts Governor was the “right man at the right time” to pull the country out of the doldrums.
Loftis cited Romney’s work ethic and ability to focus on a specific goal as his best attributes, which he said, are not insubstantial given the many distractions of Washington, DC.
The audience was comprised of approximately two-thirds Romney supporters but also several undecideds. According to a survey conducted by Patch, the two most important foreign policy issues among audience members were the United States’ relationship with Israel and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Many in the crowd applauded when Romney told the President that Israel “noticed” when Obama visited other countries in the region but passed it over.
The audience also reacted strongly—in agreement—when Romney said the United States’ had seen its reputation in the global community diminished during the Obama presidency.
Both Obama and Romney attempted to tie the country’s economic troubles to foreign policy and vice versa. Obama was clearly the aggressor, pointing out how Romney has often changed his opinion and contradicted himself on key issues. At one point, Shieffer questioned Romney about his policy on China, where his hope for a “good relationship” with the Asian power would be undermined by declaring the country a “currency manipulator,” a label Romney has promised to apply on the first day of a possible administration.
Snap polling from CBS and CNN showed Obama getting the better of the debate as a whole, but it seems unlikely that either candidate would get much of a bounce in the polls. No one in the audience at USC said their mind has been changed.
With two weeks remaining and the race a virtual dead heat, the focus by the two campaigns now switches from debate prep to advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.