Foreign Policy Campaign Clash

Posted September 25th, 2012 at 7:22 pm (UTC+0)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tells a Clinton Global Initiative audience Sept. 25, that President Barack Obama is losing control of his foreign policy goals. Photo: AP

Candidates Express Competing World Views

For those wondering when or if the 2012 U.S. presidential election campaign would ever delve into foreign policy in a meaningful way, this is probably it.  Upheaval in the Middle East and what the United States can or should do about it was front and center as the two major candidates spoke in New York.

Mitt Romney spoke to the Clinton Global Initiative forum and while his tone was softer than in recent days, he offered criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the recent events in Libya, Egypt and Iran.  Mr. Romney said Americans are “troubled by the developments” in the Middle East and he went on to say that “we feel we are at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events.”

Mr. Romney has pointed to recent events in the Middle East as proof that the president has lost control of his foreign policy goals and has been reduced to being a watcher, and not a player.  It’s also the latest attempt by the Romney campaign to change the subject away from its own problems, especially Mr. Romney’s comment at a fund-raising meeting months ago about the “47” percent of Americans who will support the president no matter what, are dependent on the government and see themselves as victims.


Obama’s Tougher Tone at U.N.

It seemed as though President Obama was punching back a bit at the Romney critiques on his speech before the United Nations General Assembly.  Mr. Obama began by paying homage to the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, who died along with three others in what the administration says was a terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi earlier this month.

The president said the attacks targeting U.S. interests in the Middle East were not just an assault on America, but an assault “on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded—the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully.”

Mr. Obama went on to talk about how the United States supports the forces of change in the Middle East embodied in the Arab Spring.  He referred to the recent anti-Muslim video that sparked protests as “crude and disgusting” and said it was not only an insult to Muslims, but to the United States as well.


Vigorous Defense of Free Speech

President Barack Obama addresses the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York Sept. 25, 2012.

At the same time, the president laid out a vigorous defense of free speech, one of the cornerstones of American democracy and the U.S. Constitution.  Mr. Obama noted that as president he has to accept that people call him “awful things” every day, but that he will always defend their right to do so.  He also said there are no words that “excuse the killing of innocents” and said it is the obligation of leaders everywhere to “speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.”

Some of this seemed aimed at rebutting the recent narrative from the Romney campaign that he is weak on foreign policy and weak on defending U.S. values.  Mr. Obama said those who condemn the slander against Islam must also condemn the hate associated with desecrations of the image of Jesus Christ or those who deny the Holocaust.

The president also recommitted the United States to walking alongside those who will work for a secure state of Israel next to an independent and prosperous Palestine.  He also sounded a tough line on Iran, pledging the U.S. will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

All in all, the U.N. speech seemed to be aimed just as much at a domestic audience as an international one — no surprise with the election just six weeks away.


Swing States Swinging Obama’s Way

The latest Washington Post public opinion polls give the White House plenty of encouraging news.  The latest survey in Ohio shows the president ahead of Mr. Romney by a margin of 52 to 44 percent among likely voters.  The president also had a lead in the latest Post poll in Florida, 51 to 47 percent.

There is no way Mitt Romney gets elected if he loses both Florida and Ohio.  So he has to win Florida.  The thing about Ohio is, no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, so he would have to make it up by winning some combination of other states, probably Colorado and Virginia.  Colorado is close, though some polls give the president a slight lead.  Mr. Obama also had a modest lead in Virginia as well.

Both campaigns are paying extremely close attention to the swing state polls in the final weeks.  If Ohio continues to trend badly for Mr. Romney, his campaign could pull the plug there and focus its resources on Florida, Colorado and Virginia.

The Obama firewall in Ohio, if it holds, is one of the big electoral state stories of this election cycle.  And the fact is the improving economy in both Ohio and Virginia may be helping the president and hurting Mr. Romney, even though both states have Republican governors.

The next few weeks will tell a lot.  If the Romney campaign can’t get any traction in Ohio or Iowa, they may refocus on what for them may be a dwindling number of battleground states where they hope to turn the tide.




6 responses to “Foreign Policy Campaign Clash”

  1. wendi adam suparto says:

    Dear.Mr. Obama it’s my second time that I have to tell you … it’s your time to become a president for second term , believe me! Hopefully, you will be the president again then don’t forget me, because I have special for you …gracias el senor el presidente Mr.obama.

  2. Joan Lipp says:

    To Democratic and Republican leadership:
    The big issues to be decided in this election include equality of opportunity for women, civil and intelligent discourse as opposed to rigidity, pessimism, and contempt for working people. Democrats, you must do a better job of developing jobs and opportunities for adults in the 20-30 year age group and do so without new spending or cutting important services. Republicans, shame on you. Your tactics of lying and refusing to provide any ideas while blocking those who seek to improve things are reprehensible. That is not leadership. Since the 1960’s it has been evident that our country has more to fear from ideological zealots than from liberals. I hope that a Free Press is still capable of obtaining and publishing the truth, especially as you try to disenfranchise voters and steal the election. It is time to restore the power stolen from Labor over the past 20 years. Clearly, Capitalist greed is overtaking the Republican Party and causing you to think that we voters are STUPID. Well, we are not. I hope the Republican Party is soundly defeated, at all levels of government and in all States.

  3. Joan Lipp says:

    … I voted Republican for Reagan and for the elder Bush. I voted for Ross Perot, and have not forgotten the economic information he provided in a way voters really needed. I voted for Mr. Clinton in both terms and still feel he was one of the most effective leaders of my lifetime. And I voted for Hillary Clinton and have rejoiced to see her on the front line of diplomacy, restoring the world’s understanding of what America is really all about. So you see, I am not an ideologue — I would vote for Republicans if they offered any good ideas. And I have two Master’s Degrees in Music Performance and Marriage/Family Therapy and worked for 23 years as a computer professional, including designing the Data Warehouse for the 6th largest Property Casualty Insurance Company in the world, So, I’m not an idiot and I really resent Mr. Romney’s comments. I EARNED every opportunity. My Dad was a writer for Associated Press, hardly a rich man, but much more intelligent than the ex-governor of Massachusetts.

  4. wendi adams says:

    … According in my mind, the president Obama will lead again for America…ok gracias senor hasta la vista.

  5. Karin Olson says:

    Why would anyone vote for a President who lies? Many Presidents have lied but which ones caused people to die? His Foreign policy has pulled Jimmy Carter out of last place. Both Presidents managed to get an Ambassador killed but at least Carter didn’t lie about it. Vote Romney, he’s not Bush and Obama is not Clinton.

  6. wendi adams says:

    Hi..everyone there in the land of America, I will not talking their attitude of the President about good or bad in decisions maker for his peoples or leading their american’s people to achieve for live and life …. many american readers !! but non to inform their people whom would be the president for right now…so although I am not as smart as american’s tarot/supra natural but myself inner told me ,according my mind Obama does’t have to much campaign it’s make him tired, because it’s nature no one can stop him to be a president for the second term…just the God knows…ok bravo el senor ai senorita, chaw!

Jim Malone

Jim Malone

After a stint in the Peace Corps in Swaziland, Jim joined VOA in 1983 as a reporter and anchor on English broadcasts to Africa.  He served as East Africa correspondent, then covered Congress in the early 1990’s.   Since 1995, Jim has served as VOA national correspondent responsible for coverage of U.S. politics, elections, the Supreme Court and Justice Department.  Jim has been involved in VOA’s election coverage since the 1984 presidential campaign and has co-anchored live VOA broadcasts of numerous national political conventions, candidate debates and election night coverage.


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