President Obama and Mitt Romney focused on foreign policy in their third and final presidential debate, held Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Here is a look at some of their statements and how firmly they are grounded in fact.
Obama on Romney's stance on Russia:
During Monday’s debate, Obama accused Romney of having a foreign policy that is stuck in the 1980s, saying: "A few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia." While Romney has said this, he soon after followed the comment with an assurance that Iran is truly “the greatest threat.”
In a March interview with CNN, Romney said, "Russia, this is, without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” When pressed, however, Romney conceded that “Of course, the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran. A nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough.” As a result, Politifact has ruled Romney calling Russia our No. 1 enemy as “mostly true.” Since that interview, Romney has repeatedly commented on Russia being a geopolitical adversary. But during the debate on Monday, Romney countered Obama’s claims that his foreign policy is stuck in the '80s. "I have clear eyes, no rose-colored glasses," he said.
Romney on Massachusetts college scholarships:
Romney described the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship program in Massachusetts as an example of his concern for promoting education. He accurately explained that the scholarship covered full in-state tuition for Massachusetts students who score in the top 25 percent on standardized tests in their school districts. What he left out was that the scholarship doesn’t cover fees, which in the Massachusetts state university system are greater than tuition. At the flagship University of Massachusetts (Amherst), one semester of in-state tuition is $857. Fees each semester, meanwhile, can total more than $5,700. And that doesn’t include one-time fees.
Obama and Romney on Status of Forces agreement:
Obama denied he tried to reach a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq that would have left more troops there. His Pentagon did try to reach such a deal, but it broke down over Iraqi insistence that troops be subject to Iraqi justice. According to Time, President George W. Bush signed the Status of Forces agreement that called for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by 2012 unless a new agreement was signed. FactCheck.org notes that Obama wanted to leave several thousand troops in Iraq, but the Iraqis would have none of it. Romney strongly criticized the Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government, saying at a roundtable discussion in November 2011, “It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake.” Romney told Fox News that Obama should have left “10-, 20- 30 thousand personnel there.”
Romney and Obama on Syria:
Romney said Obama should have coordinated Syrian opposition and formed a “council of some kind.” The administration did help to form just that, the Syrian National Council, although it has been somewhat hapless in coordinating the various Syrian rebel factions.
Obama and Romney on Bush economic policies:
Obama said Romney had praised President George W. Bush’s economic policies. In March, Romney did credit Bush, not Obama, with avoiding a depression. "I keep hearing the president [Obama] say that he's responsible for keeping America from going into a Great Depression," Romney said at a campaign event in Maryland. "No, no, no. That was President George W. Bush and [then Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson that stepped in and kept that from happening."