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Live Blog: Obama & Romney Square Off In Final Debate

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
October 22, 2012

President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., this evening for the last of their three debates before the Nov. 6 election. With polls still showing a tight race and just two weeks to go before Election Day, both men are looking at tonight’s faceoff as one of their last, best chances to woo voters.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News is the moderator.

As we did during the two previous debates and the one between Vice President Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, we’re live blogging before, during and after tonight’s debate. Hit your refresh button to be sure you’re seeing our latest additions. Most NPR stations and NPR.org will be streaming the audio. Our colleague Frank James is hosting a live chat.

Update at 8:45 p.m. ET. The Marching Orders:

Debate Commission co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf (a Republican) and Mike McCurry (a Democrat) are telling the audience in the hall the same thing they’ve told those at the other debates: no cheering, no booing and no cellphones. Basically, they remind the crowd that 60 million or so Americans are watching and they want to hear the candidates, not the audience.

Fahrenkopf also got a laugh from the crowd by holding up a T-shirt that Lynn students created. On one side, it has the logo of the debate. On the other, it says “We never heard of you either.” It’s a bit of self-deprecating humor.

Update at 8:30 p.m. ET. By One Measure, No Change In The Polls:

Before last week’s debate, we noted that Real Clear Politics’ chart that collects the results of many national polls had Romney leading by 0.4 of a percentage point. This week, Romney is still ahead by that narrow margin — 47.6 percent to Obama’s 47.2 percent.

Update at 8:15 p.m. ET. “Come Let Us Reason Together?”

Because Romney and Obama will be sitting together at a table, they’ll be “in each other’s space,” NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving says. He tells our Newscast Desk that the physical closeness may create “more of a ‘come let us reason together’ atmosphere” than that of the their first two debates, when both men were standing.

Update at 8 p.m. ET. Going Up Against Football And Baseball:

While “the first debates between the presidential candidates each drew more than 60 million viewers,” there’s a good chance that tonight’s will have a smaller audience, NPR’s Scott Horsley tells our Newscast Desk.

That’s in part because of tonight’s Game 7 in the National League’s championship series between baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants (8 p.m. ET on Fox) and Monday Night Football on ESPN (8:30 p.m. ET; Detroit Lions vs. the Chicago Bears).

But as Scott adds, “this is the candidates’ last big opportunity to address a national TV audience before turning their attention to a handful of battleground states for the final two weeks of campaigning.”

Update at 7:45 p.m. ET. What’s The Format?

As we said earlier, the focus tonight is foreign policy. Schieffer plans six 15-minute segments. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, they will be on:

– “America’s role in the world.”

– “Our longest war — Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

– “Red lines — Israel and Iran.”

– Two segments on “the changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism.”

– “The rise of China and tomorrow’s world.”

The candidates will be seated at a table with Schieffer. Each segment will begin with a question from the newsman, followed by two-minute (it’s hoped) responses from each contender. Then Schieffer will try to facilitate a discussion.

Thanks to two coin tosses, Romney will get the first question and response and will make the last closing statement.

Update at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Story So Far:

The first Obama-Romney debate, on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver, shook up the campaign. Romney had what polls show was a strong performance, while Obama was judged to have “lost” the faceoff. The next week, Vice President Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan had their one and only debate. Biden was aggressive. Ryan, polls indicate, held his own.

Last week, during their town hall-style debate at Hofstra University on New York’s Long Island, Obama was much more aggressive than he had been in Denver — challenging Romney’s statements throughout the evening. But the Republican nominee wasn’t shy about pushing back. “At times,” as we wrote last Tuesday night, “the two came close enough to touch each other — though they did not — as they invaded each other’s personal space and fired off attack lines.”

Throughout the debates, as we’ve reported, both tickets’ candidates have stretched some truths, according to nonpartisan fact checkers. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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