The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Midday Update: Obama, Romney to Debate Tonight

by Newsteam Staff
October 16, 2012

Photo of the Day: Stand in presidential candidates are seen on a video monitor prior to Tuesday's presidential debate October 15, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: Stand in presidential candidates are seen on a video monitor prior to Tuesday's presidential debate October 15, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will face off in a town hall-style debate tonight, a less predictable format (CNN) that either candidate could use to his advantage.

“The town hall format presents challenges and opportunities for the candidates, [moderator Candy] Crowley said. Both have held a number of town hall forums during the campaign season — exchanges that haven’t exactly sizzled, political experts say” (CNN).

Obama is expected to attempt to convince voters that Romney has been disingenuous, while Romney is expected to contrast his tax, healthcare and Libya positions (WSJ) with those of Obama.


The Kaiser Family Foundation released a study yesterday showing that if a premium healthcare support plan, similar to the so called “voucher” plans that GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have proposed, had been put into place in 2010, healthcare costs would have risen (Politico) for the majority of people who stayed with their current plan, including Medicare.

The study concludes that 53 percent of people who retained traditional Medicare would see premium increases averaging $60 per-month, and 88 percent of those who chose a private plan would experience premium increases of about $87 per-month.

The authors of the study “cautioned that Monday’s report should not be interpreted as an analysis of the Romney-Ryan ticket’s plan,” (TheHill), while Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul refuted it by saying, “Our plan would always provide future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options with no increase in out-of-pocket costs from today’s Medicare” (TPM).

Read more about the candidates’ positions on the economy in this CFR Issue Tracker.


Classified assessments of the situation in Syria call into question both Obama’s and Romney’s strategies on the conflict, according to a report by the New York Times.

The Times‘ findings “casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.”

At the same time, the Times report raises questions about Romney’s proposed Syria policy:

In a speech at the Virginia Military Institute last Monday, Mr. Romney said he would ensure that rebel groups “who share our values” would “obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.” That suggests he would approve the transfer of weapons like antiaircraft and antitank systems that are much more potent than any the United States has been willing to put into rebel hands so far, precisely because American officials cannot be certain who will ultimately be using them.

But Mr. Romney stopped short of saying that he would have the United States provide those arms directly, and his aides said he would instead rely on Arab allies to do it. That would leave him, like Mr. Obama, with little direct control over the distribution of the arms.

This CFR Issue Tracker looks at both candidates’ stances on democracy promotion in the Arab world.

–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

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