The final presidential debate is set for next Monday, October 22nd in Florida.Where the first two debates dealt with both domestic and foreign policy, the focus of Monday’s debate will mainly be foreign policy, a hot topic in the wake of the September 11th Benghazi Attack, resulting in the deaths of four Americans.
In his article today, Mark Davis says GOP candidate Mitt Romney must show voters Monday night he can take the unacceptable condition of the nation’s current foreign policy and make it better. Davis goes on to cite the unacceptable situations, including Iran’s nuclear ambitions, America’s neglect of her alliance with Israel, and the lack of fortified leadership through out the world, leaving a vacuum filled by terrorism. But, among the items on the list, the Benghazi attack will doubtless dominate Monday’s discussion.
During this week’s debate, the candidates had heated words on Libya, where President Obama claimed he called the incident an act of terror on September 12th, the day after the attack during a speech from the Rose Garden at the White House. When Romney challenged the statement, Moderator Candy Crowley said the president did call it an act of terror in the September 12th speech. Following the debate, however, Crowley recanted, saying Romney was “right in the main.” Here are the president’s exact words from that speech, which were given following a recollection of the 9/11 Terror Attacks:
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of values that we stand for.”
He never explicitly called the Benghazi attack an act of terror. For more than a week following the event, Obama repeatedly spoke about the attack as a result of protests in response to an American-made anti-Islam movie. Notably, he mentioned the movie during his U.N. speech numerous times, while the State Department ran a TV ad in Pakistan saying the United States is not responsible for the movie and that the movie does not express the views of the U.S.
And, in the maelstrom of mixed messages from the White House following the attack, Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice visited a variety of talk shows on September 16th telling the public that the attack was a result of protests in response to the movie. Eyewitness reports show there were no protests in Benghazi prior to the attack and that the State Department was aware of this within 24 hours of the strike on the consulate.
Further, in her article today, Kimberly Dozier reports the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of the attack that there was evidence the attack was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob attack. Additionally, testimonies from State Department officials said the State Department had received several requests for increased security at the Benghazi consulate in the weeks leading up to the attack, all of which were denied. Also, in a recent interview with Breitbart News, Colonel David Hunt confirmed that Libyan security forces were not allowed to have bullets. Hunt goes on to say this measure was part of the new State Department Rules of Engagement. The “new rules,” Hunt says, were signed and approved by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the wake of last year’s fall of the Qaddafi Regime. The day before the vice presidential debate, Clinton said she takes responsibility for security failures in Libya. Clinton, however, has not offered her resignation.
Another incident occurred this week calling into question this administration’s handling of national security and, in the broader sense, foreign policy. On Wednesday, a twenty-one year old Bangladeshi man, Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, was arrested trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in New York. In his article on the Foreign Policy website today, Josh Rogin reports that the State Department issued Nafis a student visa last December. He also notes Nafis reportedly had contact with al Qaeda before entering the U.S. in January.
Monday will offer an opportunity for President Obama to answer questions on Libya, and outline an approach to foreign policy, which so far has been obscure. For Romney, it will be an opportunity to dig deeper into the Libya Attacks and force a few answers for the American people.
Heading into the final debate, Gallup has Romney’s approval rating at 52% and Obama’s at 45%. Also, according to Real Clear Politics, Romney has 206 electoral votes to Obama’s 201, where 131 are toss ups, including 29 for Florida; the candidate will need 270 to win the Electoral College.
The final presidential debate will be held on Monday, October 22nd in Florida. This is will be the last time the two candidates will meet before the November 6th election.