GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney today begins a six-day overseas tour today to meet leaders in England, Israel, and Poland, visit the Olympic Games, and bolster his foreign policy credentials–as well as court U.S. voters living abroad (USAToday).
CFR’s Charles Kupchan tells USAToday the Romney campaign chose its itinerary hoping to “prick up the ears of certain groups” in the United States — namely voters of Jewish and Eastern-European descent, viewed as critical in Florida and several Midwestern swing states. Kupchan also notes Obama’s challenges with these groups, saying the president has been criticized for scrapping a Bush-era missile-defense system slated for Poland and for being too tough on the Israeli settlements issue and not tough enough on Iran.
In what was billed as a major foreign policy speech Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Romney criticized the Obama administration for national security leaks, looming defense cuts, Obama’s relationship with Israel, and and failing to stand up to countries like China, Russia, and Iran (NYT).
In his speech, Romney said Iran should halt all nuclear enrichment activities. “What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather. Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth,” he said. “I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.”
The Romney campaign also said that if elected, Romney would make $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt conditional on that country’s maintaining a peace agreement with Israel.
At Foreign Policy, Mark Leonard writes that four years after the landmark speech that made then-presidential candidate Barack Obama wildly popular in Europe, President Obama has higher approval ratings in most European countries than in the United States but with little impact on foreign policy.
“The legacy of Barack Obama is that the transatlantic relationship is at its most harmonious and yet least relevant in 50 years. Ironically, it may take the election of someone who is less naturally popular on the European stage for both sides to wake up and realize just what is at stake,” Leonard says.
– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor