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Transition 2012

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Midday Update: Candidates on 60 Minutes Talk Foreign Policy

by Newsteam Staff
September 24, 2012

Photo of the Day: Audience members listen as GOP nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Denver September 23, 2012. (BrianSnyder/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: Audience members listen as GOP nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Denver September 23, 2012. (BrianSnyder/Courtesy Reuters)

The candidates criticized each other on foreign policy (LAT) in separate interviews on 60 Minutes last night, with GOP nominee Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of being weak on defense and Obama saying “that if Romney ‘is suggesting that we should start another war — he should say so.’”

“It was Obama’s most direct rebuttal yet to persistent skepticism by his White House rival on his handling of an unraveling situation in the Middle East,” reports AP. “Romney has charged the U.S. stance has been marred by miscalculations, mixed messages and appeasement.”

Mitt Romney on Obama’s decision not to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week:

The president’s decision not to meet with Bibi Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, when the prime minister is here for the United Nations session, I think, is a mistake and it sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends and I think the exact opposite approach is what’s necessary.

President Obama on his foreign policy:

Well, let’s see what I’ve done since I came into office. I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I did. I said that we’d go after al Qaeda. They’ve been decimated in the Fatah. That we’d go after bin Laden. He’s gone. So I’ve executed on my foreign policy. And it’s one that the American people largely agree with.

The candidates also discussed their positions on the economy (TPM) in what was widely labeled a “preview to the debates,” (Politico).

Mitt Romney on his tax plan:

Well, they would be the current rates less 20 percent. So the top rate, for instance, would go from 35 to 28. Middle rates would come down by 20 percent as well. All the rates come down. But unless people think there’s going to be a huge reduction in the taxes they owe, that’s really not the case. Because we’re also going to limit deductions and exemptions, particularly for people at the high end. Because I want to keep the current progressivity in the code. There should be no tax reduction for high income people. What I would like to do is to get a tax reduction for middle income families by eliminating the tax for middle income families on interest, dividends, and capital gains.

President Obama on unemployment:

The problem we have was the hole was so deep when we got in it that we lost nine million jobs. We’ve created four point six. We’ve still got a long way to go. Now I’ve put forward very specific plans that we know would create jobs. And that’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of independent economists. My JOBS Act that I presented to Congress over a year ago, we said, “Let’s help put folks back to work. Let’s make sure that we are getting construction workers on the job, rebuilding our infrastructure.” It’s estimated that would create an additional million jobs right now. But we haven’t seen full implementation of that plan.

You can read the interviews in full here.

Read what the candidates are proposing for on a number of major foreign policy topics in these CFR Issue Trackers.


Republicans criticized President Obama’s UN schedule for opting to go on daytime TV instead of meeting with foreign leaders at the UN (USAToday) “despite crises abroad.”

Obama will spend twenty-four hours (AFP) in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly this week and will then head back to the campaign trail without meeting individually with world leaders. However before leaving New York, he will appear on the daytime program “The View,” which targets women and could be a significant demographic for Obama November 6.

Obama’s campaign adviser Robert Gibbs defended Obama’s decision, saying Obama would be “actively involved” at the UN and that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be meeting with foreign leaders (McClatchy).

This CFR Issue Tracker looks at both candidates’ stances the United Nations.


Half of registered voters in swing states trust Obama over Romney, who is supported by 44 percent of those voters, when it comes to Medicare, according to a Gallup poll released today. The survey was completed before the release of the leaked video that contained Romney’s “47 percent” comments.

“By selecting [Paul] Ryan as his running mate, Romney may have hoped to capitalize on Americans’ concerns about Medicare by signaling that he supports a specific approach to addressing the program’s long-term stability,” writes Gallup’s pollsters. “However, it appears that Romney’s campaign has more work to do to communicate Ryan’s Medicare credentials to voters.”

At 33 percent, Obama ranked only two percentage points higher than Romney on the question of who would be better for the program, while 32 percent of voters said Obama would weaken or have no impact compared to 36 percent of voters who said Romney would weaken Medicare and 28 percent he would have no impact.

Many voters polled remain pessimistic that Medicare will still be a viable program in twenty years.

Read more about the candidates’ positions on the economy in this CFR Issue Tracker.

–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

1 Comment

  • Posted by Amy(Romania)

    Mr. President Obama convinced me with a phrase: ‘i’ll give to the middle class, the opportunity to become rich’. That works for me..and i give you my word i will never become like those immoral capitalists with Socialist face, i describe on my myproblemsinromaniaandabroad.wordpress.com. Thank you.