Live blog transcript: third presidential debate


The Daily Trojan’s Editorial Director, Elena Kadvany, and opinion columnist Sarah Cueva will be live blogging the third presidential debate from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Elena will take a more liberal perspective, and Sarah a conservative one. Check the DT website and Twitter (@dailytrojan) for live updates!


SC: Moderator Bob Schaiffer starts off the debate with a question on Libya. Romney veers away from the question and suggests a Romney administration would enact a new “comprehensive strategy” in the Middle East to prevent further violence and nuclear proliferation. I have to say, not too many specifics there.


EK: First question of the night: the Middle East. Among his usual talking points, Romney says, “We can’t kill our way out of this mess.” and that we need a “comprehensive strategy” moving forward. Obama speaks to specific accomplishments he’s made and a specific strategy for moving forward that is designed to keep Americans safe at the same time as promoting Afghan independence.


EK: Romney’s Middle East policy is about getting the bad guys? Not sounding too presidential.


EK: Obama says Romney’s foreign policies are from the 1980s, his social policies from the 1950s and his economic policies from the 1920s.


SC: Romney corrects Obama’s allegation that he has been inconsistent on his foreign policy stances, asserting that he did say that Russia is our biggest geopolitical threat, which is different from Iran, which he calls our greatest national security threat.


EK: Obama says we need to remember the entire Middle Eastern population and help to protect religious minorities and women. I’d like to hear more on that.


EK: On Syria, Romney says America should be playing the leadership role. Spot on, but Obama says we already are.


SC: On Syria, Romney makes a good point in saying that we need to not only focus on deposing Assad but also ensure that we build and maintain good relations with the governing coalition that replaces him.


SC: Obama defends US military intervention in Libya while also saying that we should not take military initiative in Syria. Interesting inconsistency.


EK: Obama draws a great connection between youth in Egypt and American youth — they want jobs, they want better prospects for the future. Have to help to provide education for young people there.


SC: Romney says that to promote stable governance abroad, we have to have the same thing here as an example. Our national debt is a major hindrance to that, and the past four years has not done much to pull us out of this deep financial hole.


EK: Romney says we’re headed down an economic road toward Greece? A bit of an exaggeration.


EK: Obama brings up education in a foreign policy debate? Off topic, seems a bit like he’s making plugs he hasn’t had the time for before. Nonetheless, education policy deserves more visibility in this election and Obama is relentlessly giving it that.


EK: Romney on education: He offers his Massachusetts track record, again.


SC: Romney responds to Obama’s claim that he has promoted “wrong and reckless policy” by laying out a five-point plan as to how to get our economy back on track. His emphasis on energy independence for North America is especially important in this and in reducing foreign entanglements.


SC: Romney’s commitment to maintain current levels of military funding/defense spending is incompatible with his promise to close the deficit. A little malleability could help Romney’s case here. Defense spending at its current level is simply unsustainable.


SC: Romney advocates tightening economic sanctions on Iran and imposing diplomatic isolation, while maintaining that military action is the absolute last resort. Otherwise, his policy on preventing the development of a nuclear Iran does not sound all too different from Obama’s.


EK: Both candidates coming out strong on Iran.


SC: Romney says that we are “four years closer” to a nuclear Iran. Aside from military action, it’s unclear how a Romney administration would reverse Iranian advancement in nuclear development.


EK: When Obama was candidate and went to Israel, he visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. When Romney went, he held a fundraiser that was closed to the press.


EK: Obama says Romney has been all over the map on his policies and beliefs. Trite talking point but true.


SC: Romney emphasizes the need to maintain good relations with Pakistan and ensure that it does not deteriorate into a failed state. Fair enough, but what does this entail? Would it just be the next Iraq?


EK: It’s really interesting how many times Obama has tied conflict in Middle East to women.


SC: Romney says that he would designate China as a currency manipulator on day 1 of his presidency, maintaining that this would not incite a trade war but instead incentivize fairer trade practices on the part of China. We need a strong-arm approach to China in order to make trade there as profitable for us as possible, something which Obama does not seem as well-equipped to do.