It's WAR! Unfriendly fire as Obama says Romney treats military as 'game of Battleship' but Mitt blasts rival's 'apologies' in final debate

-Both candidates at pains to repeat Israel was closest ally in Middle East
-Romney steals Obama's thunder by bringing up death of Osama bin Laden
-CNN poll of debate-watchers shows 48% for Obama, 40% for Romney


Clash: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama locked horns in the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama renewed their personal hostilities against each other last night, triggering explosive exchanges over foreign affairs in the final presidential debate.
A sarcastic U.S. president repeatedly patronised his Republican opponent, accusing him of being ‘all over the map’ on how to deal with the world, ‘wrong and reckless’ and in one taunt claimed that Romney thought of the naval forces and military force levels of being ‘like a game of Battleship’, mocking the challenger for wanting to bring back 'horses and bayonets' to the military.

Aggression: Obama launched a series of negative assaults on Romney's relative inexperience

But Romney held his own in the face of Obama's sustained assaults, working hard to establish his credentials as a sober and steady statesman with an obviously well-briefed analysis of world matters, from Iran to Poland to Mali.
Early polling gave Obama the victory, but whether he will go on to win the war remains to be seen as it is still unclear whether he has done enough to stop Romney's momentum and erode his slight national lead.

Standing firm: A well-briefed Romney held up against the constant attacks on his policies

Romney reserved his harshest words for the President's post-election 'apology tour', an argument which has long been at the heart of Romney's criticism of Obama's foreign policy.
He pointed out that he had visited countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Turkey in order to improve America's image in the Middle East - though Romney added, 'By the way, you skipped Israel.'
The Republican defended the U.S.'s intervention in global politics in the past, saying: 'America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.'
Obama denied that he had intended to apologise for America, describing the claim as a 'whopper'.

Showdown: The two candidates had their last chance to face off against each other before the election

Best of friends? The pair met again just six days after their brutal clash in Long Island last week

Obama took the opportunity to attack Romney for having once claimed that Russia was 'the biggest geopolitical threat' to America.
'The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War's been over for 20 years,' the President quipped.
He gave another criticism of Romney's worldview as he said his opponent 'hasn't spent enough time studying how our military works,' pointing to the GOP candidate's call for the Navy to build more ships.
'He says we have fewer ships - well we also have fewer horses and bayonets,' Obama said, adding: 'It's not a game of Battleship.'
The President also pointed out that Romney had little hands-on foreign policy experience, saying: 'Every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong.'

Nice to see you? The debate was the third time the two candidates had met in the past week

Many expected a huge showdown over the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which killed the ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
Romney has in the past joined a chorus of Republican criticism over how the Obama administration has handled the September 11 raid - but the issue barely came up during the debate.
He briefly mentioned the assault, saying that America's 'hearts and minds' were with its victims, before moving to a broader assessment of the situation in the Middle East.
The GOP challenger avoided attacking Obama over Libya, instead saying that the country 'seems to be making some progress', and saying that he would take steps to reduce jihadist influence over the Arab Spring.
The President seemed grateful to stay away from the controversy which has dogged him for six weeks, as he was not forced to defend the security and intelligence failures which attended the attack.

Families: Michelle Obama and Ann Romney joined their husbands on stage at the end of the final meeting between the fierce political rivals

Making friends: President Obama meets Miles Romney on stage after the debate

When it came to the matter of protecting Israel and preventing Iran, on the other hand, the two had some of their fiercest disagreements.
Romney said that Iran was 'four years closer to building a nuclear bomb', thanks to Obama's failure to slow down the secretive process.
He also accused the President of failing to be sufficiently close to Israel, promising: 'If I'm President of the United States - when I'm President of the United States - I will stand with Israel.'
But Obama was also keen to prove his own pro-Israel credentials, twice referring to the country as 'a true friend and our closest ally in the region'.
He also reminisced about visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, saying he went 'to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable'.
And there seemed to be a limit to the candidates' love of Israel, as neither would confirm that he would regard an attack on the nation as equivalent to an attack on America.

Happy? Romney clearly thought he had held his own as he thanked the audience at the end of the evening

Overall, the clash was less intense than last week's brutal meeting in Long Island - partly because the rivals broadly agree on many areas of foreign policy.
On Syria, both criticised dictatorial president Bashar Assad, but refused to say that they would commit troops to the country.
'I am confident that Assad's days are numbered,' Obama said as Romney insisted, 'Syria is an opportunity for us.'

Affection: The First Couple embraced in front of the eyes of the nation in Boca Raton

The pair agreed on the danger posed by Al Qaeda around the world - and Romney pre-empted Obama's most effective attack line, the death of Osama bin Laden, as he answered the very first question by congratulating the President on his achievement in killing the terrorist leader.
It took Obama nearly an hour to bring up the assassination, despite speculation he would put the bin Laden killing at the centre of his argument throughout the evening.
In defending his decision to pursue the risky mission, he referred to a conversation with a girl who was four years old when her father died on 9/11.
'She said to me, "You know, by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me,"' he recounted.

Delight: The Romneys celebrate the end of debate season, accompanied by their large family

Romney seemed to soften the Republican Party's neoconservative line on national security as he repeatedly insisted, 'We can't kill our way out of this problem.'
The former governor of Massachusetts added: 'We don't want another Iraq, we don't want another Afghanistan - that's not the right course for us,' promising to keep the U.S. military out of Syria.
He offered an oblique jab at his GOP predecessor George W. Bush, who was an ally of Egypt's deposed president Hosni Mubarak, saying that the U.S. should have been prepared for a transition to democracy in the country 'at the beginning of [Obama]’s term and even further back than that'.
For the first time, the Republican candidate promised to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, as Obama has previously pledged.
Romney's apparent rejection of neoconservative orthodoxy dismayed many right-wingers. Fiery radio host Glenn Beck tweeted, 'I am glad to know that Mitt agrees with Obama so much. No, really. Why vote?'

The important things in life: Romney demonstrates his affection for his grandson as Obama looks relieved

The final question of the night was about China - and once again, the candidates talked tough but revealed few substantial differences between them.
Romney repeated his pledge to label the country a 'currency manipulator', while Obama pointed to tariffs he had imposed on Chinese goods flooding American markets.
The President said to his opponent, 'You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas,' an assault on Romney's private-equity background.
But the GOP challenger vowed to be more aggressive with China in order to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S., promising to tell the country's government: 'You can’t keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even to the United States.'

Thanks for coming: The two candidates shake hands with members of the audience at Lynn University

Both candidates seemed keen to divert the debate, which they had agreed should be devoted to foreign affairs, back towards domestic issues such as the economy and education.
Romney pointed out that the U.S. needs to maintain its economic strength if it is to remain politically dominated - and then took the opportunity to go on the offensive by attacking the weak recovery overseen by Obama over the past four years.
The President in return accused his rival of planning to cut education funding and implementing policies which would harm small businesses.
When Romney returned to the topic of education, promising to hire more staff as he said, 'I love teachers,' Schieffer pointed out: 'I think we all love teachers.'

Cutting loose: The Romneys appeared happy and relaxed at the end of the hard-fought debate

The debate was divided into six 15-minute segments, with each candidate given two minutes to answer Schieffer's opening questions before the moderator followed up with further questions.
The CBS veteran took a tough line on both candidates, strictly enforcing time limits and denying each the chance to answer allegations presented by the other.
He closed the debate on a humorous note, saying: 'I'll leave you with the words of my mom, who said, "Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong."'

Challenge: Romney was attempting to establish his credibility on foreign policy, where he has little experience

Attack: Obama said that Romney's foreign policy was 'wrong and reckless and all over the map'

In control: CBS's Bob Schieffer was in the moderator's chair for the final debate in Boca Raton

Anticipation: Michelle Obama in the audience in Boca Raton

Darker: The two wives were dressed in sombre tones compared to the hot pink they sported last week

Standing out: Ann Romney takes her seat in front of the audience at Lynn University

Tension: The whole Romney family played games in a holding room ahead of the debate

Arrival: Obama dismounts from Air Force One upon his arrival in Florida ahead of the debate on Monday

Downtime: Romney with his wife Ann and the family of his son Craig heading off to dinner on Sunday evening

Getting ready: Obama reads a briefing during his weekend getaway at Camp David

Bonding? Romney plays with his grandson Miles while the family dines in Delray Beach, Florida

source: dailymail
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