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Campaign 2008

The Candidates and the World

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The Candidates, the World, and CFR.org’s Foreign Policy Journey in the 2008 Campaign

by Robert McMahon, Editor CFR.org
January 20, 2009

When CFR.org started blogging on the U.S. presidential campaign back in May 2007, the foreign policy terrain appeared relatively uncomplicated. The war in Iraq looked to be the dominant issue. Under the surface, of course, were many simmering issues related to foreign policy and a surprising number emerged as flashpoints during the ensuing campaign – and provided rich mining for our blog – including immigration for the Republicans and trade for the Democrats. The assassination of a Pakistani prime minister and the outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia during the course of the campaigns brought concerns about U.S. policy toward Islamabad and Moscow to the fore. But the main surging issue turned out to be the economy. Like so many of the other issues there were cross-sections for domestic and foreign policy here, as underscored in this CFR.org Issue Guide.

We sought to bring context to the foreign policy debates through our Issue Trackers, twenty-three in all, which charted the candidates’ views, votes, and occasional shifting stances on important foreign policy issues, while avoiding judgment on the merits of their positions. Written and regularly updated by our Chicago-based contributing editor Joanna Klonsky, the trackers quickly became essential reading for a wide range of mainstream media as well as numerous politically wired blogs.

In our daily “Morning Update” posts, we’d filter through the headlines, distilling the news down to just the most important foreign policy stories of the campaign that day.

Our regular “Quote of the Day” posts highlighted the candidates’ significant foreign policy statements on the pressing issue of the moment.

CFR.org also blogged live from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in late summer 2008. On the blog, we posted interviews with convention delegates and political leaders, gauging their views of their candidates’ foreign policy platform. We reported from CFR’s series of foreign policy panels, featuring experts and statesmen like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, among others. You can look back at our coverage from the DNC here, and from the RNC here.

More than a year and a half since our first post, CFR.org’s campaign and transition coverage now comes to an end. All of CFR.org’s campaign and transition content will remain available on our Transition 2008 Archive page, including our candidate and cabinet profiles, Issue Trackers, expert analysis, and the blog itself.

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