Obama kept reminding voters that he has been running US foreign policy for the last four years.

Because the debate was in the critical swing state of Florida, where Jewish voters have a significant voice, Israel was mentioned early and often:

Other topics were avoided:

But the Middle East got plenty of attention, and also some gaffes. Obama didn’t explain the subtle nuances of America’s support for the Saudi monarchy and Arab democracy activists, while Romney suggested that Iran saw Syria as its road to the sea, though the countries aren’t contiguous and Iran already has seaports.

Romney often found himself echoing Obama’s positions on everything from the Syrian civil war to deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions, including a contest-within-a-contest where each man attempted to describe the “crippling sanctions” their administration would level against the latter country as often as possible.

With the economy at the top of voters mind in the US, candidates never missed an opportunity to pivot to domestic policy, though not always with consistent results:

Obama even made some news:

Finally, the end, China got some attention from the two candidates, largely negative and a little misguided:

Meanwhile, among the financial press…

And an instant verdict on the debate’s winner:

PRIMARY SOURCE: Here is a transcript of the third and final presidential debate of 2012, on foreign policy.

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