election 2012

What's at stake in the last debate

  • Updated: October 20, 2012 - 9:54 PM
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President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, participate in the presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press - Ap

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WHAT'S AT STAKE IN THE LAST DEBATE

For President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, the stakes could not be higher for Monday's debate. Here's what to expect:

Q How will the last debate differ from the previous two?

A These are the campaigns' closing arguments and the last time the two men are likely to meet until after the Nov. 6 election. The 90-minute format will be similar to the first debate in Denver, but the subjects chosen by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer will be limited to foreign policy. The Commission on Presidential Debates said that the segments will cover "the changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism;" the United States' role in the world; "Red Lines: Israel and Iran;" Afghanistan and Pakistan; the rise of China, and "tomorrow's world." But expect other hot spots, such as Libya, to be addressed.

Q Where can I watch it?

A The debate from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., can be seen at 8 p.m. CDT on all the major networks and cable news channels.

Q Is it significant that the debate is being held in a swing state?

A The venue "is always significant" because the state's media give a lot more attention to it when it's also a local story, said Lynn University American Studies professor Robert Watson. Florida is the fourth largest state but by far the largest swing state, since Texas, California and New York are not in play this year, he said.

Q Have there been memorable debates limited to foreign policy?

A In 2004, after the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry met in Miami and clashed over the war. Kerry said that the United States failed to construct a "grand coalition" before going to war, saying only Great Britain and Australia contributed sizable numbers of troops in the initial invasion. "Actually, he forgot Poland," Bush interjected. Bush said the coalition included 30 nations.

Q What do some academics think the candidates should be asked?

A Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, writes that he assumes both candidates will say that U.S. foreign aid to the Middle East should be conditioned on increased democratization and respect for human rights. He wants to know: "How exactly would this policy apply to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf sheikdoms ... and Israel's role in the occupied territories?"

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