The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

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

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Weekend Roundup: Divisions in Romney’s Foreign Policy Camp?

by Newsteam Staff
May 14, 2012

Photo of the Day: Mitt Romney watches commencement proceedings at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia May 12, 2012 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). Photo of the Day: Mitt Romney watches commencement proceedings at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia May 12, 2012 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).


After speaking with several of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisers, the New York Times’ David Sanger finds internal divisions and a lack of a clear, overall foreign policy doctrine.

“Dozens of subtle position papers flow through the candidate’s policy shop and yet seem to have little influence on Mr. Romney’s hawkish-sounding pronouncements, on everything from war to nuclear proliferation to the trade-offs in dealing with China,” he writes.

Sanger goes on to say that what has struck some of Romney’s advisers as well as outside Republicans is his public comments have often rejected “mainstream Republican orthodoxy,” and sound more like “the talking points of the neoconservatives — the ‘Bolton faction,’ as insiders call the group led by John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations.”

But so far Romney has spent little time on foreign policy matters, Sanger says, in large part because of the lengthy primary process. “The Romney strategy for now may simply be to portray Mr. Obama as a weak apologizer and figure out the details later,” Sanger says.

Afghanistan is expected to be the focus of the upcoming NATO summit in President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago, an event that presents low political risk for the president says Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Issues surrounding Afghanistan could be made more complex because of France’s recently elected Francois Hollande, who campaigned on a platform to pull out French combat troops by the end of 2012, ahead of the previously agreed upon 2014. But if Obama is pressured by Hollande and other NATO partners in Afghanistan to shorten the timetable, “there may not be much of a price to pay domestically,” Sweet says. And with so much of the campaign being focused on the economy and the election still months away, few will remember in November “if there are diplomatic flaps,” Sweet says.

Sweet also says the Romney campaign is paying little attention to the summit. “The Romney campaign could mull commenting on some policy difference that emerges — but that would depend on the specifics and if strategically it paid for them to go off message,” she says.

President Obama still enjoys international popularity in spite of some disappointment that he has not lived up to his promises on issue such as Afghanistan and closing Guantanamo Bay’s prison, reports the Associated Press.

“In a world weary of war and economic crises, and concerned about global climate change, the consensus is that Obama has not lived up to the lofty expectations that surrounded his 2008 election and Nobel Peace Prize a year later,” says AP. “But the Democrat still enjoys broad international support. In large part, it’s because of unfavorable memories of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and many people would still prefer Obama over his presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney.”

In a speech focused primarily on personal matters such as religion and family, Romney turned briefly to the state of the economy — his top campaign priority — during a commencement address Saturday at conservative Liberty University in Virginia. He said even though “job opportunities are scarce in this economy,” their country needs their skills and talent.

“If we take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are,” Romney said.

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