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FACT CHECK : Missteps in final presidential debate

11:42 PM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as moderator Bob Schieffer listens at the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University on October 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. The focus for the final presidential debate before Election Day on November 6 is foreign policy.
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Voters didn't always get the straight goods when President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made their case for foreign policy and national security leadership Monday night before their last super-sized audience of the campaign. A few of their detours into domestic issues were problematic too.

A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:

ROMNEY on Syria: "What I'm afraid of is we've watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, 'Well, we'll let the U.N. deal with it.' And Assad - excuse me, Kofi Annan - came in and said we're going to try to have a cease-fire. That didn't work. Then it went to the Russians and said, 'Let's see if you can do something.' We should be playing the leadership role there."

OBAMA: "We are playing the leadership role."

THE FACTS: Under Obama, the United States has taken a lead in trying to organize Syria's splintered opposition, even if the U.S. isn't interested in military intervention or providing direct arms support to the rebels. The administration has organized dozens of meetings in Turkey and the Middle East aimed at rallying Syria's political groups and rebel formations to agree on a common vision for a democratic future after Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought dozens of nations together as part of the Friends of Syria group to combine aid efforts to Syria's opposition and help it win the support of as many as Syrians as possible. The U.S. also is involved in vetting recipients of military aid from America's Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Romney is partly right in pointing out Obama's failure to win U.N. support for international action in Syria. But the Friends of Syria group has helped bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to Syrian civilians and the political opposition.

In trying to describe the strategic importance of seeing Assad defeated, Romney stumbled in saying Syria was Iran's "route to the sea." Iran has a large southern coastline with access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It has no land border with Syria.

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