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Viewpoint: Presidential debates make election choices clear

Monday night’s debate did not contain much in the way of foreign policy. In fact, if anything, it was more of a reaffirmation of each candidate’s domestic policies.

But that’s what makes this race so interesting. President Obama and Governor Romney are both good men with very different ideas, and this race is set apart from other races in recent memory because of the clear difference between the candidates.

In Debate No. 1, Romney showed that he was not just another guy ready to lose to the incumbent president, and the president looked surprised at Romney’s tenacity. In No. 2, Obama came out swinging, probably trying to demonstrate the urgency he was starting to actually feel in this race. That same tone echoed in the debate Monday night, with Obama looking to secure the lead and Romney trying not to say anything to set himself back.

But it can be easy to be caught up in all the pageantry of the debates and forget that each candidate represents a very different set of ideas.

President Obama wants to cut back from military spending and ask the rich of our country to foot more of the tax bill. He’ll put that money toward fixing the deficit and improving domestic problems like public education and creating jobs. In terms of energy, he says he wants to continue supporting oil and natural gas production, but also put more effort toward newer, more renewable energies like wind and solar power. The president’s foreign policy, especially as it applies to the hot zone of the Middle East, deals more in ideas of diplomacy, seeing military actions as the final option.

Governor Romney thinks that cutting from the military isn’t keeping us safe. In fact, he wants to add to it. Romney sees oil and natural gas as more practical approaches to energy independence. He’ll also lower the deficit by cutting taxes significantly and focusing more on small-business tax breaks. The governor follows the more traditionally conservative ideas of foreign policy: using caution in diplomacy, stopping threats as they emerge and creating the world’s strongest military.

Both men have big ideas, and both men use math that is occasionally questionable, but the great part about this election is how clear the choice is. If you think that the economy will improve by cutting taxes across the board, then you should vote for Governor Romney. If you think that the economy gets fixed by bolstering the middle class and asking the wealthy and corporations to pay a more equal rate, then you should vote to keep the president where he is.

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