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What they said in presidential debate

Monday - 10/22/2012, 11:31pm  ET

By The Associated Press

(AP) - President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt wrangled over foreign policy, including the Middle East and national security issues during their third and final debate. A look at what they said:

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SYRIA

Obama: "What we've done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We've mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance and we are helping the opposition organize, and we're particularly interested in making sure that we're mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria."

Romney: "And so the right course for us, is working through our partners and with our own resources, to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a -- in a form of -- if not government, a form of -- of -- of council that can take the lead in Syria. And then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves. We do need to make sure that they don't have arms that get into the -- the wrong hands. Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road."

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U.S. MILITARY

Obama: "But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines."

Romney: "And our military, we've got to strengthen our military long-term. We don't know what the world is going to throw at us down the road. We --we make decisions today in the military that -- that will confront challenges we can't imagine. In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism, for instance. And a year later, 9/11 happened. So, we have to make decisions based upon uncertainty, and that means a strong military. I will not cut our military budget."

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MIDDLE EAST

Obama: "So, what -- what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map. And unfortunately, that's the kind of opinions that you've offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American strength, or keeping America safe over the long haul."

Romney: "With the Arab Spring, came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation, and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life, and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead, we've seen in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events. "

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IRAN

Obama: "Our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place. Because they have the opportunity to reenter the community of nations, and we would welcome that. There -- there are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all around the world for a better life. And we hope that their leadership takes the right decision, but the deal we'll accept is they end their nuclear program. It's very straightforward.

Romney: "With regards to Iran and the threat of Iran, there's no question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable to America. It presents a threat not only to our friends but ultimately a threat to us to have Iran have nuclear material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or used to be threatening to us."

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U.S. LEADERSHIP

Obama: "Governor, the problem is, is that on a whole range of issues, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's Afghanistan, whether it's Iraq, whether it's now Iran, you've been all over the map."

Romney: " I look around the world, I don't see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding, in part because of the failure of the president to deal with our economic challenges at home; in part because of our withdrawal from our commitment to our military in the way I think it ought to be; in part because of the --the -- the turmoil with Israel."

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ISRAEL

Obama: " First of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I've made that clear throughout my presidency."

Romney: "Well, first of all, I want to underscore the same point the president made which is that if I'm President of the United States, when I'm President of the United States, we will stand with Israel.

And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That's number one."


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)