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: Candidates Differ on Path to Engagement

by Newsteam Staff
September 27, 2012

Photo of the Day: U.S. President Barack Obama high-fives a young supporter in the audience at Kent State University September 26, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: U.S. President Barack Obama at Kent State University September 26, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

High-profile addresses, at the UN and the Clinton Global Initiative, this week have reaffirmed both candidates’ desire to project U.S. political and economic values to the world, but GOP nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama differ in their path of engagement, reports the Washington Post.

“Where the two differ most is in how a debt-burdened United States, weary after more than a decade of war, should engage other nations to pursue that goal,” write the Post’s Scott Wilson. “A proponent of American exceptionalism, Romney has consistently outlined a far tougher approach to the world than Obama has practiced.” While Obama, Wilson said, has “emphasized that diplomacy and partnerships,” as his preferred approach for promoting free speech and human rights and addressing countries like Iran.

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has accused President Obama of “projecting weakness abroad,” (ABC) and said that a Romney Ryan administration would promote “peace through strength.”

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


In an effort to woo working-class voters, both Romney and Obama focused on China while campaigning in Ohio yesterday, with both candidates arguing that the other is unable to curb China’s trade practices and the tide of outsourcing (Politico). Romney again called Obama “soft” on the issue, and Obama said that Romney’s rhetoric was “just not credible.”

The Romney campaign has repeated stated that, if elected, one of his first moves as president would be to label China a currency manipulator.

Lisa Lambert for Reuters writes that “Obama can point to a significant rise in the value of China’s yuan since he took office, but he has disappointed some supporters by not formally declaring China a currency manipulator, a move that would require his administration to press for the revaluation of the yuan.”

Obama has pointed out that Romney has invested in Chinese companies (TheAtlantic) and he also released a new TV ad promising to create one million new manufacturing jobs (London Evening Standard).

This CFR Issue Tracker details both candidates’ stances on U.S.-China policy.


Four out of the top six voter concerns in 2012 are financial–the economy, jobs, budget deficit, and taxes–according to a Pew survey released this week.

Eighty-seven percent of voters indicated that the economy was “very important” to their vote, the same percentage as in 2008. The other two concerns rounding out the top six are healthcare and education.

Meanwhile, terrorism and foreign policy were eighth and ninth, with the importance of terrorism dropping twelve percent since 2008.

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

–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

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