Presidential candidates prepare for final debate

October 21, 2012 8:45:21 PM PDT
The final presidential debate takes place Monday night in the battleground state of Florida, and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent the last several days preparing for a faceoff that will touch on matters of foreign policy exclusively.

It's an area in which the president has enjoyed positive reviews, but which his challenger considers a blot on the Obama administration.

The Commission on Presidential Debates could not have planned it any better had it tried. The final 2012 debate will happen in Florida, a state with a whopping 29 electoral votes and still considered up for grabs.

The setting for the third 2012 presidential debate is Boca Raton's Lynn University. Founded in 1962, it is the youngest institution of higher learning to host such an event.

"We're an international campus," said Professor Ann Crawford. "We have students from all over the world and we have students that have different concerns in different places in the world that make us interested in foreign policy and foreign affairs."

President Obama spent the weekend prepping at Camp David while Governor Romney did the same in Florida. But the Republican took a brief break to attend part of a football game between his staff and his traveling press corps:

"Are you ready for tomorrow?" Romney was asked.

"Ready for football," he responded.

The Lynn debate is supposed to focus exclusively on foreign policy.

At last week's town hall in New York, the candidates engaged in a sharp exchange over the administration's handling of the deadly embassy attack in Libya that killed four Americans.

"The President, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser," Romney said.

"The suggestion any anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our UN Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we lost four of our own, governor, is offensive," Obama countered. "That's not what we do."

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in Florida this weekend to rally campaign workers and to help the president win Jewish votes, appeared on national television to praise Obama's effort to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

"Iran is isolated from the rest of the world," Emanuel told ABC's George Stephanopoulis. "Now that was steady, determined, dogged leadership, setting out a course."

Polls suggest an extremely close race in Florida, where the economy remains the No. 1 issue. Professor Crawford expects the candidates to find ways to discuss domestic economic issues in the context of foreign affairs.

"It wouldn't surprise me if there were some economy issues that were brought up even in the midst of this foreign policy questionnaire, debate that's going on," she said.

The president is not scheduled to arrive in Florida until Monday afternoon.

Governor Romney has been there for several day preparing, which is vaguely reminiscent of what happened before the first debate in Denver.

Mayor Emanuel does not plan to attend Monday night's debate. He will fly back to Chicago Monday afternoon.


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