issues stole the spotlight for a period of the third presidential
debate, a sign both candidates know the economy is voters' top priority.
President Obama pivoted from a discussion of America's position in the world to outline his domestic agenda before attacking Romney for opposing an increase in taxes for the wealthy, despite the debate's focus on foreign policy. Polls show that voters overwhelmingly identify jobs and the economy as their top issue this cycle.
Romney pushed back, ticking off his five-point plan that he says will create 12 million new jobs.
"I will get America working again and
see rising take-home pay again," Romney said, promising to push for
energy independence, expand trade, improve the education system, balance
the budget and "champion small business where jobs come from."
The two then had a lengthy back-and-forth on education. Seven minutes into the exchange debate moderator Bob Schieffer tried to bring them back to foreign policy, but Romney rebuffed him. By the time the two were done, nearly 10 minutes of the 90-minute debate had been eaten up by explicitly domestic issues before Schieffer could pivot the two back to foreign policy.
A bit later, the two were back to budget discussions focused at swing state voters.
Romney accused Obama of not building enough Navy ships, a key issue in Virginia's Tidewater region, where many of those ships are built, and attacked him for supporting a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling that included large military cuts. Obama counter-punched by saying the deal was Congress's, not his, and that Romney's attacks on the number of ships "is not a game of battleship where we're counting ships."
He then got one more jab in on domestic policy, telling Romney that what the governor said he wanted for the military "is not reflected in the budget that you're putting forward. It just doesn't work."