In one of the more memorable exchanges of tonight’s final presidential debate, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clashed while discussing the focus of our military. After Mr. Romney attacked Mr. Obama over the size of the U.S. Navy and Air Force, Mr. Obama accused his Republican rival of being uneducated about “how our military works,” quipping, “The question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships.”
The discussion began when the candidates addressed military spending and the size of our deficit.
“We spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined,” Mr. Obama contended after Mr. Romney went on the attack against the administration’s debt accumulation. “What I did was work with our Joint Chiefs of Staff to think about what are we are going to need in the future to make sure we are safe. And that’s the budget that we put forward….When it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not just budgets, but we’ve got to think about capabilities. We need to be thinking about cybersecurity, we need to be thinking about space. That’s exactly what our budget does, but it’s driven by strategy. It’s not driven politics.”
Mr. Romney, however, went into consultant mode and delivered a department-by-department critique of the military under President Obama’s leadership.
“Our navy is smaller now than any time since 1917,” Mr. Romney argued. “The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission, we’re now down now to 285. We’re headed down to the low 200’s if we go through the sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure we have the ships that are required by the Navy. Our air force is older and smaller than any time since it’s been founded in 1947….This is in my view is the highest responsibility of the President of the United States, which is to maintain the safety of the American people.”
In the condescending tone he took at many points during tonight’s debate, Mr. Obama went on the counter-attack to say Mr. Romney has a fundamental misconception of how America’s military might exert itself.
“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” the president said to his electoral foe. “You mentioned the navy, for example, and then we have fewer ships since 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because of the nature of our military spending. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. Ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. The question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships.”
Watch the video below, courtesy of BuzzFeed: