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For two men who have been mud-slinging for months, foreign policy appears to provide a rare but common ground.
BOSTON — For months, President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have painstakingly worked to differentiate themselves and their policies in an attempt to provide two clearly defined choices for the US electorate come Nov. 6.
However, while both Obama and Romney may fundamentally disagree on several domestic issues — economic, energy, and health care to name a few — their foriegn policy positions are more similar than either man would like to admit.
In the third and final presidential debate, Romney and Obama were poised to go head to head on issues of international diplomacy and strategy. But at the end of the evening, it was the commonalities, rather than the contrasts between the two that set the course for discussion.
Below, GlobalPost collected a series of excerpts from Monday night's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., which highlight Obama and Romney's common ground in several foreign policy areas:
On Iran and Israel:
BOB SCHIEFFER: I’d like to move to the next segment: red lines, Israel and Iran. Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan?
OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence operation between two countries in history. To the issue of Iran, as long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon ... we then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history. And it is crippling their economy ... their economy is in a shambles. And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security and it’s a threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.
ROMNEY: First of all I want to underscore the same point that the president made, which is, if I’m president of the United States, when I’m President of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back. Not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily...with regards to Iran, there is no question that nuclear Iran and nuclear capable Iran is unacceptable to Americans. It presents a threat not only to our friends, but ultimately a threat to us. It’s also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago...And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to have crippling sanctions. I’d have put them in place earlier, but it’s good that we have them.
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SCHIEFFER: Should we reassess our policy [in Syria] and see if we can find a better way to influence events there, or is that even possible?
OBAMA: What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria. But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future...And I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered.
ROMNEY: The right course for us is working through our partners and with our own resources to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a — in a form of — of — if not government, a form of — of council that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves ... Recognize, I believe that Assad must go. I believe he will go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place such that