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Obama and Romney spar over foreign policy

  • U.S. President Barack Obama hit out at his Republican rival Mitt Romney in their third and final presidential debate on Monday.

    The face off in Florida saw the challengers argue over the Arab Spring, Iran, Israel and China.

    Two instant polls said indicated Obama won the debate.

    The debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton was moderated by CBS News presenter Bob Schieffer.

    It was not as tense as their second encounter last week when Obama came out guns blazing after his lackluster performance in their first meeting.

    However, there were several sharp exchanges, with the Democratic incumbent looking to portray his opponent as a foreign policy novice who lacked the consistency to be commander-in-chief.

    Obama said Romney had supported a continued troop presence in Iraq, opposed nuclear treaties with Russia and flip-flopped over when the U.S. should leave Afghanistan.

    "What we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map," said Obama.

    Romney responded by saying the president had allowed a "rising tide of chaos" to sweep the Middle East, giving al-Qaeda the chance to take advantage.

    "I congratulate him on taking out Osama Bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaeda," said Romney, "but we can't kill our way out of this. We must have a comprehensive strategy."

    Obama replied sarcastically that he was pleased Romney had recognized the threat posed by al-Qaeda, bring up that he had previously viewed Russia as the number one geopolitical enemby of the U.S.

    "I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy," said Obama, "but every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong."

    In one of the most scathing exchanges, Obama mocked Romney's view that the U.S. had fewer ships now than it did during World War I.

    "You mentioned the Navy, for example," said Obama, "and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets than we did in 1916."

    The rivals also found plenty to agree on such as support for Israel, opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria and fair trade rule for China.

    A CBS News snap poll found 53 percent believed Obama won versus 23 percent for Romney and 24 percent saying it was a draw.