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Barack Obama Attacks, Mitt Romney Moderates in Final Debate

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS looks on Monday night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The focus for the final presidential debate was foreign policy.

Obama said his decisions are not always popular and aren’t poll-tested. “Even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did,” he said, seemingly throwing Joseph Biden under the bus. “But what the American people understand is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those decisions.”

But repeatedly, both candidates brought the debate back to domestic policy, with a particularly sharp exchange toward the end over the auto industry bailout — a major Obama initiative that he has touted repeatedly, especially in the key swing state of Ohio.

Romney, who had penned an op-ed urging bankruptcy for Detroit, contended that he wanted to help the auto industry.

“I’m a son of Detroit. ... The idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry ... that’s the height of silliness.”

Obama dismissed Romney’s answer. “Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.”

At times the debate flowed into education policy — with a mention of teachers unions by Romney — and the deficit, with Obama attacking Romney for proposing $7 trillion in new tax cuts and defense spending without saying how he will pay for it.

“The math simply doesn’t work,” Obama said.

Romney also repeated his vow to declare China a currency manipulator on day one, even if that results in a trade war. “There’s one going on right now, and they’re winning,” Romney said. “We can’t just surrender.”

Obama said his administration has aggressively gone after China when it has broken trade rules and noted Romney in one case said he had gone too far.

“Gov. Romney criticized me for being too tough,” Obama said, but the workers whose jobs were saved “don’t feel that way. ... They feel as if they finally had an administration that took this issue seriously.”

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