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: Romney Plays Defense on Afghanistan

by Newsteam Staff
September 10, 2012

Photo of the Day: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign rally at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia September 8, 2012 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters). Photo of the Day: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in Virginia Beach, September 8, 2012 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters).

In an appearance on Meet the Press, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defended the absence of Afghanistan policy in his convention speech and criticized President Barack Obama for not being tougher with Iran.

Romney said his speech at the American Legion convention, in the midst of the Republican National Convention, addressed his policy “as it relates to” Afghanistan, and that he did not feel the need to reiterate those policy positions in his acceptance speech the next day.

He also said that while in some ways Obama administration policies have made the world safer, U.S. policy toward Iran has been a failure under the current president. “The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran and in fact Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability than when he took office,” he said. “I don’t think we live with a nuclear Iran. I think we make it very clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States of America, to civilized nations throughout the world.  And that we will maintain every option that’s available to us to keep that from happening.”


President Obama reiterated his position on budget cuts and taxes on Face the Nation, as the debate over how to balance the federal budget and reform the tax system continues to rage in an election highly focused on the future of the U.S economy and its ability to compete the global market.

“You can’t reduce the deficit unless you take a balanced approach that says, ‘We’ve gotta make government leaner and more efficient,’” President Obama said in a weekend interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley. “But we’ve also got to ask people – like me or Gov. Romney, who have done better than anybody else over the course of the last decade, and whose taxes are just about lower than they’ve been in the last fifty years – to do a little bit more.”

Also on Face the Nation, Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, defended his decision to support automatic cuts in defense spending (CBS) as a way to force a deal on reducing the deficit. Ryan said he voted for the Budget Control Act in an effort “to find common ground to get a down payment on deficit reduction” and the goal was to reach a bipartisan agreement to cut spending before the massive defense cuts were enacted.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at pending defense cuts under the law that are set to come into force in 2013 unless Congress intervenes. You can also look at what the two candidates have to say about the economy in this CFR Issue Tracker.


In spite of his call to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s signature 2012 healthcare law, Romney says there are some provisions he would keep in place (WashPost), including coverage for pre-exisiting conditions and coverage under a parents’ plans for adult children twenty-six and under.

Experts say skyrocketing U.S. healthcare costs are cause for concern about the future of the U.S. economy and global competitiveness.

– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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