Washington, DC - 10/22/12

1. SOUNDBITE: Connie Cass/Associated Press

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney meet for their third and final debate and this is really the tie-breaker because Romney ran away with the first one and most people seem to think the president edged him a little bit in the second. This is a big debate tonight, just two weeks before the election. I think a lot of people will be watching to see who comes out ahead. That may mean a repeat of sort of the combative tone that we saw last week in the town hall debate. However, because this is about foreign policy, war, lives as stake, international issues that may put a little bit of a different feel on the debate. Maybe they'll feel like they need to be a little more statesman like this time around.

Another thing to watch for is Libya. Libya sparked the most dramatic moment in the last debate. Listen for Romney to raise questions about security failures, intelligence lapses and the administration short of shifting account of what happened during the consulate attack on Libya and Romney has the advantage of hearing Obama's response to that last week, which was a very dramatic moment in the debate.

A third thing to watch for is how comfortable Romney seems just dealing with foreign policy because his experience is as a governor and a businessman so he's stronger on domestic issues and he did get some criticism over the summer when he took a trip and made some remarks that offended a lot of British and Palestinian leaders and he's also been criticized for maybe being a little too hasty last month when he jumped in with his comments on the chaotic events in the Middle East and Libya.

A fourth thing to look at is how well Obama defends his four years in charge of US foreign policy. He has a record to defend now and Romney has been consistently attacking him, accusing him of going on a world apology tour, accusing him of weakening America's world leadership role.

The fifth thing to watch for, even in a very serious heavy debate like this one, here might be something fun to look out for and that's just to listen and maybe keep an eye on Twitter to see if a new internet meme emerges. The first debate gave us Big Bird, then we had the binders full of women. Who knows what we'll hear tonight.


Still neck-and-neck after all these months, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney head into their third and final debate with each man eager to project an aura of personal strength and leadership while raising doubts about the steadiness and foreign policy credentials of the other guy.

Each is aiming for a commanding performance Monday to settle the seesaw dynamics of the first two debates: Romney gave Obama an old-fashioned shellacking in the first round, and the chastened president rebounded in their second encounter.

The 90-minute faceoff at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., offers the candidates their last opportunity to stand one-on-one before tens of millions of Americans and command their undivided attention before next month's election. Both candidates largely dropped out of sight and devoted their weekends to debate preparations, a sure sign of the high importance they attach to the event.