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October 22, 2012

5 things to watch for in foreign policy debate

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Moderator Bob Schieffer's stance: The moderators of the first three debates — one vice presidential, two presidential — have emerged from the festivities as a story line in their own rights, and generally not in a good way. Given that, the final moderator, CBS veteran newsman Bob Schieffer, steps into something of a snake pit. How will Schieffer navigate the likelihood that both candidates will ignore (or at least stretch) the rules of engagement and repeatedly insist that the other guy isn't telling the truth? Interrupt? Tell them to stop speaking? Use humor? Cut off their mics? (Okay, that last one won't happen — but wouldn't it be great if it did?) Schieffer is a pro's pro, but the task he is faced with is close to impossible.

The vision thing: We've made no secret of our belief that the election won't be decided by matters of foreign policy — not even an issue as hot as Benghazi is at the moment. That said, people want and expect that a candidate has the knowledge and vision to represent the United States on the world stage — and Romney continues to struggle to convince voters that he does. Need evidence? The latest Washington Post-ABC News national poll gave Obama a 10-point lead on which candidate registered voters trusted more to handle international affairs. (The gap was seven points among likely voters.) Although Romney has made up some of that deficit over the past few months — he trailed Obama by 17 points among registered voters on that world-leader issue in February — he has not been able to narrow it nearly as much as most neutral observers expected he would. Monday's debate is Romney's best chance to close that gap; one of the announced topics is "America's role in the world."

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