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(TheBlaze/AP) — Tonight, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face-off in the final debate of the 2012 presidential season. The subject? Foreign policy — an issue that has surprisingly risen to prominence in the final months of the campaign following attacks and protests that broke out in the Middle East on September 11.
While the campaign has mainly been about jobs and the economy, with new developments and debate surrounding the Obama administration’s handling of Libya, the pundits and the public will be playing close attention tonight.
Below, find the five things to watch for when Obama and Romney debate tonight:
1. THE TIEBREAKER: Romney ran away with the first. The two parties either tied (or Obama edged him — depending on whom you’re speaking with) in the second. Stakes are high for their third and final showdown. Does that mean a repeat of last week’s ornery tone? Or will the gravity of the issues — war, terrorism, world leadership — inspire more dignified discourse?
2. REMATCH ON LIBYA: It sparked one of the hottest exchanges of the second debate. And there’s more to it than when Obama called the consulate attack an “act of terror” (i.e. like inconsistencies coming from the administration for days following the attack) Expect to hear about failed security, intelligence lapses and the Obama administration’s shifting account of what happened in Libya.
3. ROMNEY’S TEST: The former governor and businessman knows how to turn companies around — but he has, in terms of his time spent tackling issues — limited foreign experience. He took hits for comments that ruffled British and Palestinian leaders last summer, and for hastening to criticize the administration’s response even as chaotic events were unfolding in Libya and Egypt. This debate is the prime moment for Romney to display the knowledge and judgment to lead on the world stage.
4. ON DEFENSE: Obama must defend four years of foreign policy. Expect Romney to accuse the president of weakening America’s world leadership by mishandling Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the pullout from Afghanistan, the Syrian conflict and the U.S. relationship with Israel. Can Obama rebut that criticism and focus on ending the Iraq War and killing Osama bin Laden?
5. A NEW MEME? First Big Bird. Then “binders full of women.” Watch Twitter to see whether another phrase catches fire while the debaters are still onstage.