Tonight is the third and final Presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle. The debate will be emanating from Boca Raton, Florida and will focus on foreign policy.
After the scuffle the two candidates had in the last debate over Libya and the September 11th assassination of United States Ambassador Chris Stevens, look for a longer and more pointed discussion of the events that took place and the Obama Administration’s rhetoric after the attack.
Also bound to come up is the topic of the Arab Spring in general. What is America’s role in these uprisings? How does America balance its values with its security? The President made a highly publicized speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009. Expect Mitt Romney to hold the President to much of what he said back then. Also look for President Obama to ding Romney on his own missteps with foreign affairs. For example, his big overseas trip gaffes and his premature statement on the consulate attacks.
The topic of Iran and their nuclear program is a reoccurring topic for about a decade and is likely be broached tonight. Expect Obama to tout new sanctions placed on Iran and expect Romney to attack Obama for not standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel on this issue.
Finally, the topic of China is one that is broad and deserves some time in this debate. Part of Romney’s economic plan is to crack down on China’s trade cheating so he is sure to mention that. Obama will likely cite his administration’s actions to curb China’s defense hacking into American infrastructure.
In terms of impact, foreign policy isn’t a large driver of votes either way. Unless either candidate makes a massive gaffe or misstep, expect a fairly tame debate with little polling changes. However for the policy wonks, debates like this provide a unique opportunity for the candidates to articulate how they will act as America’s representative on the world stage.