US & Canada

Obama and Romney in final push

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at the third presidential debate 22 October 2012
Image caption Opposite claims: Who was stretching the truth?

Fact-checkers have been testing the claims made during the third debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, centred around foreign policy.

During the 90-minute debate in Boca Raton, Florida the candidates argued over the Arab Spring, Iran, Israel and China, and often turned back to the domestic economy in an attempt to discuss "nation building at home".

So, how truthful were the candidates?

Leaving troops in Iraq

Although the war in Iraq has ended, it continues to be a flashpoint for the candidates. Mr Obama accused Mr Romney on Monday of wanting to keep troops in Iraq past 2011.

Mr Romney did indeed call out Mr Obama for his handling of the Iraq war, telling Fox News in December 2011 that the US should have 10,000 to 30,000 "personnel" there to help the transition. In October 2012 , he said the US had been "undermined" in Iraq by the "abrupt withdrawal" of troops.

But as the Washington Post points out, the reason Mr Obama did not leave troops in Iraq is that he could not do so, after failing to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the country.

"Now he [Obama] stresses the fact that he has removed all troops from Iraq, while knocking Romney for supporting what he originally had hoped to achieve," the newspaper's factchecker, Glenn Kessler, writes.

Smaller navy?

Mr Romney's claim that the US Navy had the fewest ships since 1917 led to one of the more memorable rejoinders from Mr Obama: "We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed,"

But is Mr Obama right? This is not the first time Mr Romney has made the claim.

In January, Politifact gave the former governor a "pants on fire" rating for saying so during a Republican primary debate, calling it an "egregious comparison of apples and oranges".

Advances in technology, the size of ships and training continues to make the US the world's unquestioned military leader, even with fewer ships.

What's more, the current number of navy ships is higher than at some points under President George W Bush.

"Put it all together and you have a statement that, despite being close to accurate in its numbers, uses those numbers in service of a ridiculous point," Politifact says.

Permission to enter

Both men were running for president back in 2008 as well, and both were asked what they would do if given the opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden.

In Monday's debate, Mr Obama said: "When you were a candidate in 2008 — as I was — and I said, if I got Bin Laden in our sights, I would take that shot... and you said we should ask Pakistan for permission." says Mr Obama distorted both Mr Romney's and his own statement. When asked about conferring with Pakistan in 2008, Mr Obama was referring to "high-value" terrorists, not Bin Laden specifically, and Mr Romney, instead of asking for permission, was disagreeing with Mr Obama's attitude towards Pakistan, calling it "ill-considered ".

He later told a debate in Iowa that the US should not explicitly announce it was entering a country for such a mission, saying, "We keep our options quiet."

Threat-level Russia

Mr Obama also attacked Mr Romney for previous statements he had made on Russia, accusing the former governor of believing that the country was the number one US enemy.

The New York Times says Mr Romney has "indeed characterised Russia that way, although he also cited other more immediate security threats".

Mr Romney has recently softened his language on Russia, but still has "deep seated" concerns about the country's use of political repression and its wealth in natural resources.