US & Canada

Pundits on third presidential debate

Mitt Romney (left) debates with Barack Obama in Boca Raton, Florida 22 October 2012

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over foreign policy in their final head-to-head before the election. What did the pundits make of it?

Toronto Star

Romney had a few powerful moments in Boca Raton - each one delivered by pivoting away from the topic at hand to domestic issues, pounding the Obama administration's dismal record on jobs, debt and economic growth.

The former Massachusetts governor has made the same points time and again. And this being their last direct encounter, small wonder he chose to pound that home-front drum.

But on the vast breadth of foreign questions, Romney's decision to dial down his previous bluster and shift to the moderate middle simply didn't work.

Read more from Mitch Potter

The Australian

Obama and Romney were happy to talk about education, healthcare, employment and deficits while spending as little time as possible on issues like Afghanistan or North Korea. Interestingly, both men agreed that the US deficit itself constituted a profound national security risk.

It reflected the state of play with the election now just a fortnight away. The polls show a deadlock with Romney having the momentum; a force he found came his way after Obama's insipid performance in the first debate on October 3 in Denver, Colorado.

Obama has been keen to make up lost ground since but he has struggled. There was general agreement in the media that Obama won the second debate, albeit narrowly, after a more feisty aggressive performance.

He may have won today's debate too, again by a slender margin. And so he should. A debate on foreign policy is going to favour the incumbent.

The fact that Obama was the first to veer away from one of his strengths and work the domestic angles is proof that he knows how close this contest is going to be.

Read more from Jack the Insider

The Times, London

One word emerged from Mitt Romney's performance during the third and final Presidential debate: Peace.

President Obama won the debate on points, delivering numerous memorable lines and witty put-downs. His remarks, dripping with sarcasm, that America now had "fewer horses and bayonets" than in 1916 "because the nature of our military's changed" allowed him to paint Mr Romney's foreign policy approach as dated and out of touch and was one of several successful swipes at his Republican challenger.

But the debate was by no means a defeat for Mr Romney and both camps probably came away from the event in Boca Raton, Florida happy.

Read more from Alexander Frean (Times paywall)

The Atlantic, US

Mitt Romney wins. That's not to say he won Monday night's debate or the presidential campaign, but it's safe to say he won an important chapter: The debate season.

With an acceptable, though far from exceptional, performance in his third and final face-off with President Obama, the former Massachusetts governor became one of the few presidential candidates to make debates matter.

Bottom line: Obama won Monday night's debate on points, benefiting from the blessings of incumbency and hard-world experience. But the challenger held his own, and thus the state of the race is likely unchanged.

Read more from Ron Fournier

Politico, US

President Barack Obama tore into Mitt Romney as a vacillating foreign policy novice during the final presidential debate Monday, as the former Massachusetts governor sought to close Obama's long-standing advantage on international affairs and national security.

Both candidates lobbed sharp accusations at each other throughout the forum at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., but it was Obama who set the caustic tone at the outset and dialed it up from there.

Read more from Alexander Burns