The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

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

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Midday Update: Republicans Divided on Action for Syria

by Newsteam Staff
May 30, 2012

Photo of the Day: Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 29, 2012. (Brendan McDermid/Courtesy Reuters)


While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has criticized President Barack Obama’s opposition to arming Syrian rebels, other members of his party seem divided on Syria, with some congressional Republicans sharing the president’s reluctance and others urging airstrikes (NYT).

Romney himself has stopped short of advocating for direct U.S. military intervention and “[s]uch caution, from both the incumbent and the challenger, reflects the complexities of the Syrian uprising as well as the recognition that Americans have little appetite for another large-scale military engagement,” writes the Times’ Mark Landler. “Even human rights groups are not demanding intervention.”

In addition to Romney, Obama faces criticism from conservative analysts who say his caution is because of the coming election rather than operational concerns.

Romney’s top economic adviser Glenn Hubbard said to Romney will soon release new proposals on financial regulation and healthcare (WSJ), according to the Wall Street Journal’s blog Washington Wire.

Hubbard also said he believed a Romney presidency would remove uncertainty on taxes and regulations, and thus give the economy a “shot in the arm.”

While Mitt Romney was clinching the Republican party nomination with the Texas primary (WashPost), two potential running mates were boosting their foreign policy credentials with overseas trips.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio visited his family’s native Cuba for the first time (MiamiHerald) on a trip to the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay, calling it a routine stop as “a member of the Intelligence Committee.”

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, will meet with Israeli  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this week (ABC). Portman is no stranger to official international travel, having served as the U.S. trade representative for the George W. Bush’s administration.

Voters’ confidence in the U.S. economy, the top issue in the campaign, remains at a four-year high and is still slowly rising, according to Gallup. While still on the negative side, last week’s -16 is the highest point for the Gallup Economic Confidence Index in four years of daily tracking, the pollster says, up slightly from the -18 readings in the first half of May and up significantly from -27 at the start of 2012. Its -54 low point came last summer, during fights in Congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

Statistics from The Conference Board consistently show that, when consumer confidence measure has averaged under ninety-five in an election year, the incumbent has lost; over ninety-five, he has won. Current consumer confidence is sitting at sixty-seven, they say. CFR’s Center for Geoeconomic Studies also shows a tight correlation between unemployment and consumer confidence.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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