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Final debate: Obama, Romney challenge each other face to face

CREATED Oct. 22, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct. 22, 2012

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  • President Barack Obama sharply challenged Mitt Romney on foreign policy in their final campaign debate Monday night, accusing him of "wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map." Image by tmj4.com

  • "If Israel is attacked, we have their back," said Romney -- moments after Obama vowed, "I will stand with Israel if Israel is attacked." Image by tmj4.com

  • Obama said he had ended the war in Iraq, was on a path to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan and has vowed to bring justice to the attackers of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last month -- an assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

    Image by tmj4.com

  • Romney took the offensive, too. When Obama said the U.S. and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran to halt nuclear weapons development, the Republican challenger responded that the U.S. should have done more. He declared repeatedly, "We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran."

    Image by tmj4.com

  • President Barack Obama sharply challenged Mitt Romney on foreign policy in their final campaign debate Monday night, accusing him of "wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map." Image by tmj4.com

  • Anticipating one of Obama's most frequent campaign assertions, Romney said of the man seated nearby, "I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaida. But we can't kill our way out of this. ... We must have a comprehensive strategy." Image by tmj4.com

  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney meet family members after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds) Image by The Associated Press

  • President Barack Obama, right, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney discuss a point during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Image by The Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Pool-Win McNamee) Image by The Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney flashes a thumbs up to the audience after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) Image by The Associated Press

  • President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they walk off stage as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and his wife Ann, say goodbye to the crowd before departing after the third presidential debate. Image by Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, right, and President Barack Obama shake hands with audience members following the third presidential debate at Lynn University. Image by Associated Press

  • Moderator Bob Schieffer gestures as President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speak during the third presidential debate at Lynn University. Image by Associated Press

  • First lady Michelle Obama is greeted before the start of the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • Ann Romney arrives for the third presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point during the third presidential debate with President Barack Obama at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • President Barack Obama answers a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • President Barack Obama answers a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama react to moderator Bob Schieffer during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Image by Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- President Barack Obama sharply challenged Mitt Romney on foreign policy in their final campaign debate Monday night, saying, "Every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong." The Republican coolly responded, "Attacking me is not an agenda" for dealing with a dangerous world.

Romney took the offensive, too. When Obama said the U.S. and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran to halt nuclear weapons development, the Republican challenger responded that the U.S. should have done more. He declared repeatedly, "We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran."

Despite the debate's stated focus on foreign affairs, time after time the rivals turned the discussion back to the slowly recovering U.S. economy, which polls show is the No. 1 issue for most voters.

They found little agreement on that, but the president and his rival found accord on at least one international topic with domestic political overtones -- Israel's security -- as they sat at close quarters 15 days before the end of an impossibly close election campaign. Each stressed unequivocal support for Israel when asked how he would respond if the Jewish state were attacked by Iran.

"If Israel is attacked, we have their back," said Romney -- moments after Obama vowed, "I will stand with Israel if Israel is attacked."

Both also said they oppose direct U.S. military involvement in the efforts to topple Syrian President Bashir Assad.

The debate produced none of the finger-pointing and little of the interrupting that marked the presidential rivals' debate last week, when Obama needed a comeback after a listless performance in their first meeting on Oct. 3.