"Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I'm certainly not going to say to him, I'll give you more flexibility after the election," Romney said. He said that Putin would face "more backbone."
Romney said, as he did in the earlier debates, that Obama began his adminstration by going on an "apology tour" to Arab countries. This time, Obama was ready for him.
"Nothing Gov. Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign," the president said.
But for much of the debate Romney struck a softer tone tonight than he has in recent weeks, both in his demeanor and the policies which he was advocating. Romney, who scored points for being aggressive in the first debate, and advocated a hawkish foreign policy in the first months of the campaign, tonight said America should spread its influence in the world not through its military but through soft-power diplomatic solutions.
"We don't want another Iraq, we don't want another Afghanistan," Romney said, adding that investment in Muslim countries would help stem the rise of Islamic extremism.
The two men at times seemed to agree as much they disagreed. Both said they would stand with Israel if it were attacked by Iran, and both say they will withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014.
President Obama called the restive civil war in Syria "heartbreaking," but said the U.S. should not send troops into the conflagration. Romney essentially agreed. but said the U.S. should send weapons to the insurgents.
Obama noted that he had ended the war in Iraq and was scaling back troop deployments in Afghanistan.
"After a decade of war we have to do some nation building here at home," he said.
Locked in a virtual dead heat, the candidates at times turned to the domestic issues – particularly the economy and jobs --they believe both distinguish them from each other and about which voters are more worried.