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’s ‘Subtle Contrast’ on Afghanistan

by Newsteam Staff
September 12, 2012

Photo of the Day: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets supporters in Jacksonville, Florida, September 12, 2012. (Jim Young/Reuters)


GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussed his plans for the U.S. military and the drawdown from Afghanistan in a speech at the National Guard Convention Tuesday that some say “drew only subtle contrasts with the president’s foreign policy” (WashPost) and mainly “echoed the current U.S. policy” (Politico).

“America’s military leads the fight against terrorism around the world – and secures the global commons to keep them safe for the trade and commerce that are vital to lifting people from poverty,” Romney said. “While the war in Iraq is over, nearly 70,000 American troops still remain in Afghanistan. Our goal should be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. We should evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.”

Romney also spoke of his experiences on September 11, 2001.

Conservatives continue to press Romney for more details (Reuters) on his policies as the November election draws nearer.

“[W]ith polls showing that Obama has taken a slight lead in the race after the Republican and Democratic national conventions, increasingly anxious conservatives are calling on Romney to spell out more of his plans–even if it risks alienating some undecided voters,” writes Reuters’ John Whitesides. “The calls for a change in strategy have become particularly loud since Sunday, when Romney struggled during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program to explain what income tax loopholes he might close to help offset the cost of his tax cuts, or whether he would keep portions of Obama’s health-care overhaul, including a requirement of insurance coverage for those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

The future of the U.S. economy and global competitiveness have been the top issue for voters and the GOP this election cycle.

Foreign Policy‘s Uri Friedman questions whether President Barack Obama would be doing well with voters if he had not ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In an election mainly focused on the economy, “intangibles,” such as how a candidate makes voters feel about the United States’ global position, still matter, Friedman writes.

“By drawing a sharp contrast with Romney on foreign policy–arguably the president’s greatest strength–the Obama campaign may be trying to convince swing voters that the president’s overall job performance has been strong enough to merit four more years in office. And if Obama weren’t in a position to cite his greatest national security success so far, that would be a much harder case to make,” he writes.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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