Whoppers, Bayonets and Zingers, Oh My

Obama appears to have "won" tonight debate.

ByABC News
October 22, 2012, 5:42 PM

Oct. 22, 2012 — -- President Obama was on the offensive during the third and final presidential debate tonight, hitting Mitt Romney for shifting on foreign policy positions and pointedly telling Romney, "Every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong."

Romney agreed with Obama during much of the debate that concentrated on foreign policy, but had sharp words for the president on the Middle East saying the president "wasted these four years" by failing to stop Iran's nuclear program and allowing the Middle East to descend into "tumult."

(Click HERE for the full debate transcript)

He congratulated Obama on tracking and killing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but added, "We can't kill our way out of this mess."

The president at one point defended his tenure saying flatly, "America is stronger now than when I came into office."

(Click HERE for ABC News' fact check of the debate)

Obama's more aggressive style appears to have given him the edge in the debate, but it may not have a great deal of impact on the race, which a new national poll put at a dead heat.

Former Republican strategist and ABC News consultant Matthew Dowd said, "The president won big tonight ... He came through much stronger, much more as a commander-in-chief.... But I don't think it changes the race much."

Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush administration staffer and ABC News consultant, graded the debate a win for Romney. "He brought the president into a debate about the economy," she said.

Meeting at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., the two candidates sat at a table sat next to each other and across from moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News, an arrangement that allowed for less of the dramatic finger pointing and circling that made for fireworks in last week's matchup in New York.

There were, however, plenty of zingers.

When Romney accused the president of cutting back on military spending by noting the U.S. Navy had fewer ships today than in World War I, Obama shot back: "Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed."

He also said in an almost derisive tone, "We also have things called aircraft carriers that planes land on and submarines that go under water."

Schieffer said tonight's debates comes on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's address to the nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis when the U.S. and Russia were on the verge of nuclear war. It also took place just over a month since Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Libya killing four, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. that Iran is less than a year away from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Obama, who has made the killing of bin Laden a cornerstone of his campaign, attacked Romney for failing to recognize the threat Al Qaida continues to present to the peace and security of the United States.

"Gov. Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia… The 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama sniped.

Romney responded with his own venom, reminding the president he was caught late last year on an open mic telling the Russians he would have more flexibility following the election.