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At the Next Presidential Debate, Obama Has 90 Minutes to Save the World

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Tuesday's second presidential debate is a really big deal for all of us. Before the first debate it was all going so well for Obama. He had a clear lead in almost every swing state and an opponent whose vote winning strategy was based on the premise of telling half the electorate that they were a bunch of lazy spongers. Then it all changed. In the first debate, Obama appeared to forget he was president and acted like a disinterested high school teacher who was waiting for the end of the lesson bell.

In the vice presidential debate this week, Joe Biden smirked his way to a draw with Paul Ryan. This has slowed Romney's momentum but, make no mistake, with under a month to go, it's now a real possibility that Mitt Romney can win this thing.

For all of us in the UK and Europe, this should be rather worrying. Sure, we can look down from the moral heights of NHS mountain to watch Romney and Obama slug it out over issues like healthcare. But we shouldn't forget that a US President has enormous global influence that affects us all.

As a sobering reminder, America spends £711 billion a year on defence. This makes up 41% of the entire global spend and is more than the next 14 biggest spending countries combined. The UK is fourth on the list and we spend 11 times less than the United States. Believe me, you get a really good discount on missiles if you spend £711 billion so I think we should be careful choosing the person who wields that much global fire power.

More than that, the president has unrivalled ability to shift global politics both for the good the bad and the ugly, so this places enormous responsibility on our American cousins to choose wisely.

So far, the election campaign has been dominated by domestic policy. The US economy and the size of the budget deficit have rarely left the agenda, relegating foreign affairs to a mere by-line.

This is a key problem because Romney has escaped real scrutiny on his foreign policy credentials. He's given a couple of speeches that haven't shown any sort of nuanced view of global politics and stuck to broad and meaningless ideological statements like it being "the responsibility of our President to use America's great power to shape history - not to lead from behind." Also, Romney's disastrous tour of Europe in the summer has not even been discussed.

Lest we forget, but in only ten days abroad, Romney used an easy question about the London Olympics to sour his relationship with the UK. Then, in Jerusalem, he directly compared Israeli gross domestic product to Palestinian per capita GDP, attributing Israel's economic vitality to their culture which was down right offensive to most Palestinians. And finally, one of Mitt's staff told reporters to "kiss my a**" and "shove it" when they were standing at a holy site in Poland. So, let's say it could have gone better.

Since Obama was elected in 2008, global politics has become ever more complicated. Iraq and Afghanistan still rumble on. Israel and Palestine are far from peace. The Arab Spring still looks very frosty indeed. Finally, Iran seems to be either developing the most efficient national grid ever or is intent on having enough nuclear weapons to wipe some of their least favourite neighbours off the face of the earth (you know who you are).

Do not underestimate the seriousness of all of these problems. This is not the time for a president who can't make it through ten days with his allies without being able to get his Italian leather shoe out of his mouth. Also, despite being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm not exactly banking on the dysfunctional EU family to sort everything out? I'm not for one second saying that the other contentious winner of this prize, Barack Obama, is somehow the answer to all our prayers. Nor do I think that his record is faultless. But on the evidence available, in a contest between Obama and Romney, I'm picking Obama.

So Barack, for goodness sake, man up. At the next debate you have 90 minutes to prove to the American People that you want to be president, beat the other guy and possibly save the world from gaffe induced destruction. No pressure then.

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