Hillary Clinton has not been frequently mentioned during the third and final debate of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, but her influence cannot be easily ignored.
The final presidential debate focuses on foreign policy, which is closely related to Clinton's position as U.S. Secretary of State. More importantly, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney proposed a new global strategy. Both of them seemed to approve Clinton's "smart power" with the minute difference lying in how to be "smart." Romney said that the U.S. Navy has owned the smallest number of warships since 1917, and Obama refuted that the United States also has fewer horses and bayonets but it has such powerful equipment such as aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. The dialogue is one of the few highlights in the third debate, and can be considered as typical example of different yet convergent political views.
Clinton proposed the strategy of "smart power" during the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination race and has implemented it under the Obama administration. Obama has always been absorbing Clinton's ideas on foreign affairs since he took office. For example, on the issue of Middle East, approval rate of the United States in Muslim countries was as low as 15 percent while Obama reduces vulnerability of foreign policy, with the help of Clinton, during the presidential debate this year.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor under former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, has rated Clinton's diplomatic performance in the past four years as A- or B+. Romney has found it hard to pick on Obama's foreign policy since he is unseasoned on foreign affairs. During the first two rounds of presidential debate, he tried to play tougher but achieved less. Therefore, in the finale on Oct. 22, Romney did not indulge in issues of foreign affairs, including attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya which worries Obama most. His consultant explained that the third presidential debate matters less since the topic is far away from people's daily life. The Republic Party cares more about the 12 swing states and female voters' support. Romney just needs to act like a commander in chief.
Indeed, American voters are now more concerned about domestic affairs such as employment, personal income, medical insurance, and even abortion than about foreign affairs. No matter who wins the presidential election, the United States is most likely to continue the foreign policy formulated by Clinton.
Read the Chinese version: 美大选三辩不只是俩男人的战斗, source: Jinghua Times, author: Huang Heng