The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

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

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Foreign Policy: Romney’s Trip Could Shift Debate on the Trail

by Newsteam Staff
July 24, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets Father Christian Tutor in Bow, New Hampshire July 20, 2012 (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters). Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets Father Christian Tutor in Bow, New Hampshire July 20, 2012 (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).


Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s upcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East could help establish his foreign policy credentials and shift focus away from talk of his personal wealth and business history, say analysts.

Romney’s advisers were divided on whether the candidate should accept the International Olympic Committee’s invitation to attend the opening of the London Games, according to reports from Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer. Some aides argued that a visit to the Olympics, where his wife’s horse is representing the United States in the dressage competition, could draw more attention to his personal wealth, while others saw a trip abroad as the perfect opportunity to show voters “he could be an effective global player,” she writes.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin writes that expanding the trip beyond Europe to include Israel offers Romney a chance to shift attention from his time at Bain Capital to his successful rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games as well as focus on foreign policy, which he has so far not done much of this campaign season.

At The Hill, Juan Williams says Romney’s trip will bring foreign policy into the campaign spotlight, which he says is a bold and potentially risky move for Romney since polls show voters consider President Barack Obama to be holding a foreign policy advantage in the race.

“As a governor and a businessman, Romney has dealt almost exclusively with domestic policy. He arguably has the least international experience of any GOP presidential candidate of the last twenty-five years,” Williams writes. “The 2012 election appears to be unique in that foreign policy looks to be an advantage for Democrats — with Republicans seeking ways to reclaim a past strong point.”

For more on the candidates’ stances on major foreign policy issues, check out all of CFR’s Issue Trackers.

Suggested Other Reading:

At Foreign Affairs, Michèle Flournoy and Janine Davidson write that if the United States is to maintain its standing in the world, defense and foreign policy cuts are not the answer, even in tough economic times. “Preserving the United States’ unique standing and leadership will require revitalizing the American economy, the foundation of the nation’s power,” they write. “It will also require smart engagement with the rest of the world to create the conditions that are essential to economic recovery and growth, namely, stability and uninterrupted trade.”

Brookings’s Shadi Hamid writes that active U.S. support for Middle East democracy from the next president is critical even if it occasionally angers long-standing allies. Hamid argues the next president should create a “reform endowment” to help solidify Arab democracies and develop a comprehensive national strategy to advance long-term U.S. interests in the region.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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