Flip-flopping might be an effective campaign strategy on domestic issues, but it came with a cost for GOP nominee Mitt Romney Monday night at the final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla.
A CBS News flash poll of uncommitted voters taken immediately following the debate gave Obama the win by a whopping 30 points; Obama 53%, to Romney's 23%. That's 6 points more than the Romney win in the first debate, now credited with reviving a faltering Romney campaign.
While Romney tried to mirror many of Barack Obama's foreign policy positions, there were some notable, rather frightening, incoherent Romney moments.
In describing our military, Romney said, "Our Navy is old" and "Our Air Force is older..."
To which President Obama replied, "I think Gov. Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works.... You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines."
Romney agreed with just about every foreign policy established by the Obama administration. Between yawns from the audience, Romney decided to abandon his last position on Afghanistan, and now agrees with Obama that the timeline for withdrawal should be in 2014, without exception.
As expected, both Obama and Mitt Romney tried to steer the questions back to the US economy, and this may be where Romney made his biggest mistake, as he tried to wiggle out of his 2008 New York Times Op-Ed, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."
Romney also looked foolish when he incorrectly rearranged geography. "Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea," Romney said.
In fact, Syria borders the Mediterranean Sea and borders Iraq, not Iran.
No one should be surprised by Romney's weak foreign policy debate performance, since he has no governing experience in the area. But there is no excuse for him not knowing the borders of Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
The good news is both candidates stayed in their chairs and there was much less snarling than there was in the second debate. However, Romney did manage to toss out a few petty complaints about being "attacked" by the president. But Obama fired back, hammering Romney hard on his inconsistencies and how unacceptable they were in the world arena.
By the end of the debate it was clear that moderator Bob Schieffer had only a tad more spine than the previous elderly male moderator, Jim Lehrer did in the first debate. So on the total moderator debate scoreboard, it looks like the women were the big winners.
In the days ahead, we will find out if Romney took a hit in the polls from his weak foreign policy debate performance. Either way, the 2012 presidential race looks like it will be close right down to the wire on Nov. 6.
Read the full transcript of the foreign policy debate
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