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Filler: Final debate topics leave race up for the taking

Workers prepare the set for Monday's presidential debate

Workers prepare the set for Monday's presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2012) Credit: AP

So this is it -- the rubber match in a three-debate presidential battle that most onlookers agree is tied 1-1, after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney crushed Barack Obama in Denver under the snoozing eye of moderator Jim Lehrer and Obama won the Long Island rematch on points thanks to an odd assist from moderator Candy Crowley.

Tonight's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., is to focus entirely on foreign policy.

Normally, I'd say this would be a lightly watched debate, thanks to the average American's yawns when confronted with foreign policy on the "Let's Pick a President" show at the same time ESPN is showing the Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions football game.

But this year, with an election race so tight you can hear it squeak, many people will probably tune in just to see who gets in the best body blow, or the snittiest "I think it's my turn to talk now. I let you talk when it was your turn to talk, so now I get to talk because it's my turn to talk. So this is me talking. Because it's my turn."

The debate tonight will be moderated by CBS's Bob Schieffer, and the planned topics are:

-America's role in the world
-Our longest war -- Afghanistan and Pakistan
-Red Lines -- Israel and Iran
-The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism I
-The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism II
-The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World

My best guess for tonight is a tie that leaves the whole question of "Who won the debates" up for grabs.

I think Romney will score points on the White House's changing versions of the Benghazi story, and Obama will score points by pointing out that Romney doesn't actually disagree with him on many specific points on foreign policy.

Of course, with the Bears playing on national TV, it is possible that Chicago fan Obama will turn in another distracted performance because he's watching the game stream on his iPhone under the podium. It's also possible that Romney, in a fit of pre-presidential aggression, will promise to bomb someone "on day one."

That, as they say, is why they play the game, and why we watch.

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