Final Presidential Debate 2012 Preview: The Candidates Debate

Preview coverage of the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in Florida.
3:00 | 10/22/12

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Transcript for Final Presidential Debate 2012 Preview: The Candidates Debate
This is an ABC news Yahoo! News blood -- that candidates debate now. Here are Dan Harris Amy Walter and Olivier -- There is the arena into which Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be stepping tonight for the third and final debate -- on focus on foreign policy you're looking at a live shot of the debate site at -- university in Boca Raton Florida. Everybody -- Dan Harris along side ABC news political director Walter and Yahoo! News White House correspondent for the eight knots and during this. Roughly 45 minute live stream -- -- give you everything you need to know as we head into yet another potential turning point in this close in this race. And the race is exquisitely close right now the latest NBC. Wall Street Journal poll showing a dead heat among likely voters 4747. Of course this race is not going to be one. -- national level but in those crucial battleground states and in Ohio arguably the most important battleground Obama. As a five point lead right now -- in the latest CBS quinnipiac poll which had 5045. It is tightening. Add at this race. Being as excited as it is right now any little gap tonight could change the dynamics let's turn for the brain trust here. We've agreed. And -- -- that the question of the day is who has the most to lose tonight with your. It's exactly right here. I think right now it is Mitt Romney because he's the guy with the momentum -- you always want to keep that number one number two he has now passed that threshold. On the question of -- you think could be commander in chief who DC could do better job on the economy. That's what came up in these polls that we saw today the national polls at least and he'd been making inroads into those two very important questions. That's where it gets very tricky for President Obama he's still seen as more likable. He understands the values of the middle class more say voters more so than Mitt Romney. But this can they see Mitt Romney is president states right now the syndicate. Your answer that -- -- I -- it's I think that's exactly right it's going to be interesting it's more interesting if you disagree with her out there and you -- also coping yet -- well -- -- they're really good. -- -- I think in -- case in the spirit of that -- -- that that President Obama has that there must lose here. You don't -- welcomed because one of his. Well you know utilities are under threat so so he he's had this edge for months on -- farm policy and it's been steadily shrinking and shrinking. Thinking it's now really tight it's within the -- are apparent a couple of these polls. That's been not just that natural Aaron the race for the end but it's also being the headline grabbing situation in Libya and mean in bank I think that's that's done some damage. Democrats are are -- -- that is going to be. Nagging at him from now through Election Day he didn't -- -- to rest in the last debate he tried to took responsibility -- -- -- people I talked to don't think he's getting it. Let me follow up -- you just a little bit how does the president who effectively took out. Public enemy number one Osama bin Laden moves his edge in foreign policy has -- -- What happened a couple of ways and I think -- I think having -- Jesus is very important this is weeks news coverage saying security failure intelligence failure. Possible al-Qaeda link. And Republicans have been very good about using this to say well he says he's dismantle al-Qaeda put them on their heels but -- what's happening here we have this. Spectacular attack in which an American ambassadors killed the first time in thirty years. And so you have of the national -- the -- but you also have a very very. Front and center incident in an -- -- Until what have you done for me lately thanks -- live did a great -- on this the other night saying. You know saying that you killed Osama bin Laden is great but that's also like saying I was -- winner of American Idol season two. Right -- -- remembers the season -- -- -- island or anything okay. Thank you Kelly Clarkson no pictures first arrogant city might pop culture now -- -- I don't know who once he's there to answer okay well what. Let me say this we are lucky to be -- on this live -- by an -- foreign policy reporters -- -- -- -- that your times. Pleasure to meet -- we've never -- that upon your ratings for many many years let me ask you as we -- -- -- debate what is the one area where you expect to see the most fireworks easy and that's usually out. But it's been not the only if it is symbolic of a much bigger if you and the bigger if you that you see in the Romney attack on President Obama. Is that somehow he has let the Arabs morning spin out of his control and turn in to. What could be a much larger Mets for the United States. Now implicit in this is a sense that. The president United States has control over how a series. More than twenty countries going through this enormous upheaval. Actually end up turning out. There is a philosophical difference between these two. Think President Obama is very much of the mind you could let the dictators go. Respond to what was going on on the ground. And hope and work with countries in in in the hope that they will turn out to be democratic. Knowing that many of them won't mean we've got majority Islamic countries here you're gonna get some hardline Islamic government that. Mitt Romney has been going at this in a very different way you've been to say -- United States needs to exercise influence needs to be in the bigger way. And needs to control these events -- -- a real appeal when you're debating. It doesn't have a lot of practical capabilities sometimes when you're sitting in the Oval Office you're looking for what -- recent poll. And you're discovering that I don't into the debate like -- neck deep in some ways with the guy who actually is not. In power right now that track against -- thing that not to worry about the diplomatic reverberations. That that's -- way to the reverberations but more importantly you know we'll explain the mechanism of how you turn from sounding tough. Executing a tough policy and the amazing thing about Barack Obama is that if you go back. Four years ago you turned back the time clock to one Olivia and I were running around -- a different campaign trails you know covering this. Is that you've got out of -- President Obama something completely different than what you would have expected in 2008 what was -- 2008 debate at all about. It was about talking about engagement. Do you remember in there any discussion about five or six fold increase in drone strikes on Pakistan idol maybe Olivia with -- just I wasn't at that. Do you remember any discussion of cyber attacks on the Iranian nuclear plant that would spin them out of control. I'll remember that then he won't hear that tonight because that's the biggest Covert program the United States is at rock. So David we know that foreign policy very important. But it's also one of those issues when you say it out loud to people. Has the same -- saying we're gonna do a lot of -- Right I just he instantly your brain starts to shut down a little bit so -- -- skies because they feel very intimidated by the issue I think a lot of folks here that they're intimidated by. So how do you as. Candidate go out there. Make very important points on these issues but also make it relatable. To this 5069. People watching at home who don't know the intricacies of what's happening in Arab Spring. Well look first thing I think both candidates need to do is related to their economic -- -- so for President Obama he's gonna say. Look at Mitt -- here's a man who talks about cutting the federal government. Except the defense budget which he always wants to be. 4%. Of gross domestic product and which he thinks needs to grow we need it fifty -- building at fifteen tips. For the navy every year so -- and so -- And you heard President Obama to a little bit of this in the last debate when he said he wants to build systems the -- and doesn't want. OK so the message there is he would be your way to more waste in the Pentagon but. If you Mitt Romney what you want to say is economic strength is the key to America's. Defenseman. And you can't be -- strong national security state if you don't have a strong economy that hates them right into the trying to debate. Because China is where the American economy and finally all. I was ask you actually so we know that the country's top issue in the election are their foreign policy voters who are -- where are. Well. One thing to be careful look tonight is you couldn't get. A different view about who won this debate from foreign policy elites who spend their days. Writing about this thinking about this. And a different view out in the middle country. And that you've heard that to some degree. And governor Romney's own rhetoric really starting during the during the -- to the election when you Perkins sounding more like hawks -- his foreign policy advisors so. Asked about Afghanistan he -- what happened and negotiate with the column -- we're gonna kill all the Pol Pot. Philly got to the general election wasted. -- 2014. Date for pulling out of Afghanistan doesn't sound so we might want to slow it a little bit but he Iran. Very tough line on Iran. Then asked governor Romney what we could do differently -- take crippling sanctions while the Obama administration would say been there done that. So. You could hear a lot of rhetoric and wondered to yourself what the mechanism would -- So and I think when we may see tonight President Obama making -- of the shifting statements -- around. State senator thank you very much really appreciate it coming thank you -- and -- -- -- -- with you -- -- the debate tonight was -- event -- with the Obama campaign. Ben is in Chicago right now hey Ben how are asked. General thanks for having me. To the Romney people seem to be putting out this message that given the president's grandson foreign policy they expect their -- don't lose tonight. What's your response to that. Well I actually think there's a very high bar for Mitt Romney since we've seen his audition on the world stage during this campaign. He went on a foreign trip that should have it should have been filled with soft balls in the alienated. Our closest ally he said that Russia not al-Qaeda. Was our greatest. And the fact is -- -- many global challenges that. And we're collecting both -- president -- commander in chief and I think the American people. -- -- see who the credible commander in chief here is they know that the president is he's somebody who promised in 2008 and the war in Iraq and responsible way. To refocus and al-Qaeda to put us on a path to and the war in Afghanistan. And to restore alliances around the world and he's done us. Well then let's talk about in terms of -- winning and losing he got a candidate now in Mitt Romney who feels. Definitely if he's if he's not saying that he thinks he's gonna win this to be at least is feeling better about winning this election. New polls coming out today showing the race is even tighter than -- -- after the president's performance. At Hofstra. So tell me this if it that debate wasn't enough to put the president back on top in this race what can -- do tonight what does he need to -- tonight. To get the momentum back. Well it sounds like you're pretty focused on a national polls and as you know this day this race will be decided in key states. Across the country and there's a small but important -- for the president in key states across the country saw the polls that came out today in Ohio. And Pennsylvania the NBC polls in. Wisconsin and Iowa last week this campaign is oriented around getting to. 270 plus -- -- votes. That's what we're focused on every day. And these numbers are just hypotheticals anymore were outperforming her early vote margins. In states across the country. Iowa for example. We're doing better than they were in 2000. And so we're seeing a lot of enthusiasm behind the president's candidacy. Right now alternate -- A way -- the contrast on foreign policy. Tonight one of the key points of contrast is the fact that the president ended the war Iraq. Mitt Romney called that a tragedy. The president has put us on a path to end the war in Afghanistan and get our troops on by the end of two point fourteen. And and Mitt Romney won't commit to that. -- I can't -- as with Mitt Romney you. You can't get endless wars again and that's not where the American people want right now. Started to happen but let me just jump back in on this -- -- of the battle that battleground state polling. And from what I've seen the battleground state -- is tightening even though you've got leads you they're getting smaller. Mitt Romney appeared to have the momentum that's not the situation you want in the weeks leading up to the end of this race. Are you not concerned about that. We think this has been a steady race. Over the past year and a half we never had a ten point lead. In Ohio we always thought that things will be close to competitive there it's it. It's a Bellwether state it's it's a close stated to battlegrounds -- But ultimately this will be won on the ground in key states across the country you can see. The impact that her organization is having right now more Democrats than Republicans are turning out of the polls in -- -- in some of these states you're seeing two thirds. The amount of Democrat show up I'm sorry more Democrats are showing up than Republicans by two to one. -- and so we don't just have polls anymore we have actual results. On the grounds and the fact is that the Romney campaign is losing -- early vote. By significant margins so -- let me ask you a question. The -- -- -- Addressing this question to reporters to get to -- -- to you what what does the president wanted to do on the foreign policy front and a second term. Well I think the first thing that the president wants to do you. Is -- you and it's wars abroad to make sure that we're nation building here at home. And as you can see part of the second term agenda that is outlined which you can find it Barack Obama dot -- back -- plants that he'd reinvest that money here and come to vote. Reduce the deficit. And and to invest in programs -- create good paying jobs for the middle class programs like education research and development where. Mitt Romney would come back there are plenty of areas where we're making progress. He's laid out the goal of doubling our exports. By by 2015. And as you know is in the process of negotiating. New trade agreements that will help us do that and that involve the entire. Western Hemisphere. And so he's got a lot of but many are laid out on that website adjustment. And the bolt from the Obama campaign reporting from Chicago we thank you can we thank you sir appreciate your time let's get down to Boca Raton Florida now. The debate is by my -- what does it. In eight hours 45 minutes away outside in the spin room -- are already spending period and a -- came from New York. Congressman thank you for joining us let me read you just a few words from the lead paragraph Indian and in a Politico article. From this morning that says that -- -- might be from last night. It says that in the view of some top -- advisors this debate will be quote almost impossible to win. Since foreign policy is such -- -- for president Barack Obama agree or disagree. I have to disagree I think governor Romney is -- do an excellent job tonight. I think -- show that leadership to bring wrecked the economy is necessary to have leadership in the world and he's gonna demonstrates the president's policy is not worked. The president has not been -- on the street storage the American people about. The consequences of his foreign policy and what governor Riley's gonna show -- that our knowledge and most importantly leadership and that's what you need and they. President when it comes two dealing overseas and do with American foreign policy. Congressman you've obviously been very involved in the the issues surrounding the attack on the consulate and and then got CNN. Curious what you think you would like to hear for Mitt Romney about that night how do you think. He should be approaching us. I think governor on the huge show that what happened in -- -- -- to extend his distrust is a metaphor for the president's confused policy. The president has told us that al-Qaeda has been defeated -- accredited on the ropes and Qaeda is on the run and yet we see a terrorist attack being carried out. The first time in 33 -- American investors Carol and took the administration two weeks to realize it was a terrorist attack. Also the president -- from behind in Libya Qaddafi was deposed but now we have thousands and thousands of weapons running loose in Libya. And so I think the president. Governor Romney should focus more on Libya as the example of how the president's overall policy is not worked in dealing with terrorism. -- mister chairman. White House and the Obama campaign say that Mitt Romney would keep troops indefinitely in Afghanistan even though he's embrace the 2014 timetable. Governor Romney says he would impose crippling sanctions on Iran well. We have a regime. A sanctions on -- is pretty robust right now are these guys making more of the differences between them and -- really are. Those differences are very real and even as far as the troops in Afghanistan present Obama I know that Vice President Biden. Among other things that every -- will be out of Afghanistan. You recall congressman Ryan said. That would be the intention but also to work with the military to see what they want under the agreement that was worked out of Afghanistan. -- to keep ten to 151000 troops back in Afghanistan. To train the Afghans and also be a stabilizing presence I mean have -- combat force I think the president asked to explain that discrepancy. This agreement with the -- the Afghans. The Afghan government was to have an American presence in Afghanistan listen nobody wants -- the American -- anywhere in the world that we created vacuum some sort of Philip. We entirely part of Afghanistan then you have the Taliban have -- Qaeda ever ran that Pakistan all of those -- some -- all of them and fill a vacuum. So what happened before when -- vacuum and Afghanistan. I lost 3000 people in my city in New York. Congressman. You know we've talked a lot about style in a lot of these debates even even sometimes at the expense of substance but clearly the last debate very aggressive. There are a lot of folks who think they might have been too aggressive and turned some swing voters off just in terms of of what you. What do you expect to -- from both the governor and Barack Obama. What should what should they be doing in terms of giving out they. -- positions to voters. That's not quite as in your face -- do you think -- get Tony back a little -- or do you expect that you're gonna see an equal amount. Aggression. On the action on the question really -- -- we speak of myself as I'm from New York. I like the fact that they -- an outage -- either that was good I thought it was respect from both sides but also aggressive. Yes that's where we are is that in on the -- politics -- realize it's a big country the whole country is not New York. Army units he's sitting down at a table Bob Schieffer -- different type format going to be city at the same table. I don't see you talk about issues that are very profound try I think it will be more of a yes scaled back debate I think leadership will come across. We talk about style means -- to -- glitzy glamour. Or can be having a mystery of the issues and having a commanding a presence which is what governor Romney -- had. The president goes in and out sometimes he's concerned this time he seems like you rather be somewhere else -- playing basketball in Chicago whatever he wants to -- The fact is governor Romney has shown that he is always has -- I'd be very compelling presence. The president again he's in and out sometimes good sometimes he's not sometimes -- important huge void. And disinterested so I don't know I all right I can only speak for governor Romney and that you have a commanding leadership group presentation tonight. Congressman Peter King from New York despite your professed preference or bare knuckle politics were very pleasant -- and we appreciate you. -- -- Monday -- judgment in the enjoy the day and night -- -- video from somebody I. I'll make -- -- on camera we really appreciate that path. Get an update. That's right I -- publicly -- that's what -- that he's -- -- people -- feature in the -- who -- members of congress punch on the way -- -- I we will take it we'll take some -- for having provoked the violence and no question about it it -- before we end this thing -- -- against the question. If Barack Obama loses this election will we be able to point to this as the first sitting president to lose an election because he lost the debate. Well there are many people who wouldn't say they disagreed that the debates have that much influence but I do think it that very first debate was so important. Because he allowed Mitt Romney to overcome that caricature that had been -- -- -- of him and I think we will look back and say. And Barack Obama had Mitt Romney on the ropes even -- -- people now saying had this thing gone the other way we would be. Hunker down probably in the fetal position sobbing for the next five weeks instead we are in a very tight race because all that work. All that work that the Obama campaign did to turn Mitt Romney into this bad guy that you can't trust. -- want -- -- with them over the course of two strong debates. Yeah I -- in this in this is that there -- -- here and I think it but it latest I think that actually what we've seen. And are columnist Yahoo! Jeff Greenfield -- -- -- about all the different indicators that would suggest. That would predict a Romney victory when the economy talking about all the different problems on on the home front. I I think. I think the debate certainly had a huge impact I think as -- says it it on did some of the work the Obama campaign did to define that Ronnie but I think. That ended in the fundamentals are really what we're driving voters to polls -- -- the last minute voters. I don't think that they're looking at the debates and trying to assess who won on points or -- the tone was. I think they're looking around them and sang in -- really are we better off than we were. Where's and next had great to have been an accident is your -- would prefer poker to make -- -- a hostile posture and the pair split. As we noticed as we've noted during the course of his life in the race is really come down to a handful of states they could determine the outcome. It is he -- Cutler explains why some states. Get all the attention from the candidates. Our founding fathers wanted to make sure every voter. At a sports they decided what elect -- for every representative and senator plus three for Washington DC. Would vote. The president. That's 538. Electoral. And because it takes 270. That's half plus one to win the presidency. It would seem candidates would favor big -- right. Wrong. Nobody goes California nobody goes to taxes nobody goes to New York three biggest states why because -- -- you know who's gonna win and enter our trip to the butcher to understand how bigger stakes and big states. Aren't always the top choice. -- -- -- You -- here again. You -- when I think and I one -- you got a -- oh Wednesday. What makes it different parts more -- and because there's not as is on the Internet an animal dismal weeks -- it. At the top of the list just like swing states people like Virginia and Iowa. States where voters have a -- for both parties this is -- -- united as a -- -- -- so this is kind of like Michigan this is like Ohio really. States like Michigan Massachusetts Missouri and Tennessee. Our like New York -- popular and beefing with dedicated -- this is like most of the country this is just like me seven being. Nine electors right. This is the everyday -- The flight stakes in the country Oklahoma Kansas Connecticut moderate electorate numbers but reliable took part and -- road. -- the descended on the New York California and Texas a world. Comfort food for campaign put -- -- -- -- numbers and always a party please. So with -- -- -- juicy electoral. Actually lots of people hate it because we think in this country is being one person one vote. But it's not that way the electors -- the president is that would have been different than what most people it. OK well and the answer right there. -- thanks so much appreciated -- equipment. -- -- thinks the bank -- -- apologies to begins in the audience were about as well wrap up his -- through want to remind you we are posting eight compositing a thesis and posting a question. On social networks today particularly Twitter we want to know who has the most to lose tonight you heard. From Olivier mania on this we will hear from you -- -- that hash tag debates and by the way we'll be back tonight at 8 o'clock. Or pregame show leading up to the main -- at 9 o'clock in Boca Raton Florida of that debate the third and final debate and then after the debate at 1030 we'll have an hour postgame show. I'm Dan Harris for -- Olivier. Thanks for joining us -- evacuating.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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