Washington: Seeking re-election, President Barack Obama is preparing to clash with his Republican rival Mitt Romney over foreign policy issues like Libya, Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, China and situation in the Af-Pak region in their last US presidential debate before the polls. Unlike the second debate in New York wherein the questions were asked by a select group of audience, at Boca Raton in Florida, the moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS news would be asking questions in a structured format.
If the second debate is of any indication, which was won by Obama, millions of Americans watching it live on their television screens on Tuesday are expected to see a heated exchange of words between the two leaders; especially on key foreign policy issues like Libya, in particular the terrorist attack on US Consulate in Benghazi, the Iranian nuclear weapons program, China and the situation in Af-Pak region. The European financial crisis, the administration's reset strategy with Russia, the US relationship with emerging powers such as India and Brazil, might also jump in during the 90-minute prime-time debate.
Obama, 51, who is spending time in the picturesque resort of Camp David preparing for the presidential debate, is expected to list some of his key achievements of his foreign policy including the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader and end of war in Iraq and attack his Republican challenger on his inexperience on the foreign policy front. Romney, 65, on the other hand is expected to corner Obama on the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed its Ambassador to Libya, the rise of China, the reset-policy with Russia, the nuclear programme of Iran and the perceived differences with Israel.
Political analysts on Saturday expected the third debate to be a "hard-fought" discussion, with Obama hoping to reverse the recent trend showing the polls heading positively towards Romney. Meanwhile, the latest poll conducted jointly by The Wall Street Journal and the NBC News channel revealed that Obama and Romney are in a dead heat two week ahead of the 6 November presidential elections.
"Among likely voters, the candidates are now tied, 47 per cent to 47 per cent, in a race that appears on track to be one of the closest in US history," the newspaper said. "Mr Romney has pulled abreast of the president for the first time all year in the Journal poll, erasing a three-point lead among likely voters that Mr Obama had in late September and a five-point lead earlier that month.
"Mr Romney's surge followed his strong debate performance in Denver early this month and a contentious second debate with Mr Obama last week," the daily said. With the contest deadlocked and just five percent of voters undecided, the campaigns will now turn heavily to state-by-state efforts to rouse their base and get out the vote, it added.
“The poll found Romney with a wide lead among men, 53 percent to 43 percent, while Obama continues to maintain an advantage among women, 51 percent to 43 percent. Romney’s edge among men has grown over the past month, while Obama’s lead among women has slightly diminished," The Wall Street Journal said.
Gallup's daily tracking poll pegs Romney with a six-point average at 51 to 45 support among likely voters. On the other hand, Rasmussen Polling’s three-day tracking survey shows Romney with a narrower one-point edge; while an IBD/TIPP tracking poll has Obama leading by three points over Romney. The two candidates are in a virtual tie according to an average of all the major recent polls taken by RealClearPolitics.