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Steak v. veggie burger candidates

Oct 23, 2012 - By Kasie Hunt and Ken Thomas, The Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Voters watching the final presidential debate at home may have missed what happened before and after President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney took the stage on Monday.

Here's what viewers missed:

Pregame

Call it a "good luck" meal: Before the debate, aides said Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dined on steak and potatoes, the same meal they shared before the second presidential debate. The president also spent some downtime with two longtime friends: Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt.

For lunch, Romney had a veggie burger, Cajun-spiced fries and a vanilla milkshake from a nearby Burger Fi restaurant.

Romney and his family were staying at a beachfront Marriott hotel, where his sons and five of his 18 grandkids mingled with staff ahead of the debate. Members of Romney's family rode in the motorcade to the debate, in vans labeled "Family 1" and "Family 2." They spilled out of the vans into the darkened parking lot and walked into the hall together.

Before the two candidates took the stage, Romney watched his grandchildren play Jenga, now something of a pre-debate tradition.

Waiting

In the moments before the debate, moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News asked the audience to be "quiet as mice" so the debate would be "worthy of the presidency of the greatest country in the world." Schieffer carried a purple binder to the desk and sat in silence before the candidates joined him on stage at Lynn University.

When he entered the hall, Romney cordially greeted his rival. "Good to see you again," Romney said, with a broad smile.

The sounds

As Obama, his voice rising, sought to discredit Romney on whether there should still be troops in Iraq, the shutter clicks of cameras echoed throughout the hall. Romney got a few snickers from members of the audience when he said he wouldn't give Russian President Vladimir Putin "more flexibility" after the election.

When Romney and Obama quarreled over military spending and the budget, Obama interjected -- "I'm going to answer the first question" -- and drew some more chuckles from the audience.

The audience again laughed when Obama dug into Romney's criticism about the size of the Navy in nearly a century, telling his Republican challenger that back then "we also had horses and bayonets."

Schieffer drew laughs when he said they could all agree that they "love teachers."

And during Obama's closing statement, the audience chuckled quietly when Obama said there have been "way too many TV commercials" during the campaign.

There was no audible laughter in the hall when the president made his earlier joke about the 1980s wanting their foreign policy back.

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