(WASHINGTON) — There are 15 days and one presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney left before the general election.
While both candidates acknowledge the outcome of the election depends on no more than two dozen swing states, the debate Monday night — the third of the campaign season — provides the final opportunity for the candidates to make their case to a national TV audience. Both Obama and Romney spent the weekend behind closed doors preparing.
Until recently, the election has mostly been about Americans’ concerns about domestic matters, namely, the economy and creating jobs.
However, last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya has suddenly pushed foreign policy closer to voters’ economic worries, with Romney accusing Obama of not being up front about what happened in Benghazi and weakening America’s stature abroad.
That topic is expected to take center stage at Monday night’s debate in Boca Raton, Fla., while the president is expected to hammer away at Romney’s inexperience on foreign affairs matters that was accentuated by his gaffe-filled trip to Europe and Israel last summer.
With each candidate “winning” a debate apiece, it’s conceivable that this third one could be the tie-breaker among the so-called undecided voters who will determine the election’s outcome.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday had the race tied at 47 percent support for each candidate. Obama has an edge among women, according to the poll. Romney has the edge among men.
Besides Libya, Romney will likely charge Obama with having done a poor job with the troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and allowing Iran to continue processing uranium for the purpose of creating a nuclear arsenal that threatens Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region.
Meanwhile, the president will likely accuse Romney of advocating policies that could put American soldiers in the middle of another ground war since many of his international advisors are the same neo-conservatives who convinced George W. Bush to invade Iraq, which took the Pentagon’s eye off Afghanistan for years.
Furthermore, Obama will argue that his opponent wants to give the Pentagon $1 trillion to $2 trillion more than it’s asking for, thus further exploding the deficit.
Each of the candidates has charged the other one with being “too soft” on China, which has devalued its currency to sell its items cheaper abroad and block U.S. imports. Romney says Obama is wrong to hesitate on labeling Beijing a “currency manipulator,” while the president contends that if Romney angers China, he could start a trade war that will further blunt U.S. economic growth.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
Josh Friesen, Idaho State Journal