The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Overnight Roundup: Weighing Foreign Policy Positions

by Newsteam Staff
April 19, 2012

Photo of the Day: A supporter captures video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Charlotte, North Carolina April 18, 2012.(Chris Keane/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: A supporter captures video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Charlotte, North Carolina April 18, 2012.(Chris Keane/Courtesy Reuters)

With the race likely down to President Obama and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, their differences on their foreign policy is getting more attention.

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic says differences between a future Romney or Obama foreign policy is largely “unknowable.”

“Romney could be much better than Obama or much worse, or pretty much the same, regardless of your notions of what better means, because it’s very difficult to tell what he’d do, or the political climate that will shape his decisions, or even what unexpected foreign-policy challenges he’ll face,” Friedersdorf says.

The most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll shows voters trust Obama more than Romney when it comes to international affairs –  53 percent over 36 percent. “Interestingly, however, Romney’s weakness on foreign policy doesn’t appear to result from Obama’s strengths,” says the Post’s Scott Clement. “Americans give Obama middling ratings on international affairs overall: 47 percent approve, and 44 percent disapprove. Obama’s marks on terrorism are better but far from the stratospheric support levels he had after Osama bin Laden’s killing.”

“The hot partisan fight over the economy so far has overshadowed Romney’s grievances with the Obama foreign policy,” says Steven Hurst in the Associated Press, but notes Romney ultimately hopes hopes to show his foreign policy is stronger than Obama’s “consensus-seeking” approach.


Voters’ satisfaction with the country’s direction leveled off in April at 24 percent, slightly lower than in March, but still  higher than in any month in 2011 except May, according to Gallup’s latest numbers.

The economy overwhelmingly remains the top problem voters are concerned about, far ahead of non-economic issues such as the way government works, healthcare, and the price of gas.

“Satisfaction with the way things are going in the country is one indicator of an incumbent president’s probability of being re-elected,” Gallup says. “Presidents George W. Bush in 2004 and Bill Clinton in 1996 enjoyed satisfaction levels in or near the 40 percent range just prior to their successful November elections. George H.W. Bush was unsuccessful in his re-election bid, with satisfaction levels in the 14 to 22 percent range in the summer of 1992.”


On the campaign trail (ClevelandPlainDealer) in northeast Ohio, Obama talked about the links between eduction, the economy, and his policy proposals, particularly in the Rust Belt where the economic downturn has hit hard and recovery has been slow. Investment is needed, to move the economy forward, Obama said.

“What’s the better way to make our economy stronger? Give more tax breaks to every millionaire and billionaire in the country, or make investments in education and research and health care and job training,” he said, still pushing for the Buffett Rule, which failed to garner enough votes to avoid filibuster in the Senate earlier this week. “Understand this is not a redistribution argument. This is not about taking from rich people to give to poor people. This is about us together making investments in our country so everybody has got a fair shot.”

– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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