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Face to face: It's the final Obama-Romney debate

CREATED Oct 22, 2012

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- Foreign policy took command of the campaign spotlight Monday at the third and final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, two weeks before Election Day in a close race for the White House dominated by pocketbook issues and the economy.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Iran's nuclear ambitions were all ripe for disagreement in the 90-minute event at Lynn University.

Both men spent the weekend in rehearsals, the president at Camp David in Maryland and Romney in Florida. They paid brief visits to the debate hall in the hours before its start.

Obama and Romney are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. For both men, the final days of the long campaign are likely to be a whirlwind of rallies in the far-flung battleground states. Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.

Barring a last-minute change in strategy by one campaign or the other, Obama appears on course to win states and the District of Columbia that account for 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The same is true for Romney in states with 191 electoral votes.

The battlegrounds account for the remaining 110 electoral votes: Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Ohio (18) and Wisconsin (10).

The televised debate brought no cessation to other campaigning.

Obama's campaign launched a television ad in Florida that said the president ended the war in Iraq and has a plan to do the same in Afghanistan, accusing Romney of opposing him on both. It was not clear how often the ad would air, given the fall's overall focus on the economy.