Friend, foe, or faux? Six take-aways from the final presidential debate.
The third, and last, presidential debate Monday night offered some notable exchanges between President Obama and Mitt Romney – some unscripted and some clearly rehearsed.
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The better friend of Israel battle, chapter umpteen.
Romney once again questioned Obama’s dedication to Israel, noting that as president he visited Cairo but not Jerusalem.Skip to next paragraph
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Obama was ready for the charge.
"If we're going to talk about trips that we've taken – when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops. And when I went to Israel as a candidate,” he said, “I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to ... the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself [of] the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable."
Obama also spoke of his visit to Sderot, the southern Israeli town that has often been the target of rocket fire from Gaza – what prompted the US-funded Iron Dome anti-missile system now in place.
New toughness on Iran – or a misstatement that won’t be forgotten?
A number of foreign policy analysts who admit their eyes were beginning to glaze over sat bolt upright when Obama seemed to stake out a new, tougher demand for Iran if it wants to secure relief from the international sanctions devastating its economy.
“We hope that their leadership takes the right decision,” he said. “But the deal we’ll accept is they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”
End their nuclear program, including all uranium enrichment even for civilian purposes? Has Obama suddenly embraced the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Or did the president over-generalize his position, and did he really mean there must be no nuclear weapons program?
Obama later nuanced his original categorical rejection of any Iranian nuclear program, saying, “There is a deal to be had, and that is that they abide by the rules that have already been established; they convince the international community they are not pursuing a nuclear program; there are inspections that are very intrusive.”
But there it was again, that “no nuclear program.”
Obama portrays Romney as a potential commander-in-chief … for the early 20th century.
Romney accused Obama of allowing America’s military superiority to slip, and to make his case he said that shipbuilding for the Navy has reached its lowest pace since 1917.
Obama was ready to strike back.
"Well, Governor,” he retorted, “we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers,” he sniffed, “where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. So the question is not a game of Battleship where we're counting slips. It's what are our capabilities."
The zinger no doubt delighted many of Obama’s ardent supporters for the way it portrayed Romney as a leader for a bygone era. But how many fence-sitters judged it to be a level of snarkiness unbecoming of a president?