Showing posts for "Russia"
DENVER — National Security Day kicked off in Denver Wednesday, with delegates looking forward to speeches from former Vice President Al Gore, former President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) vice presidential selection, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), among others. Just outside the high-security zone around the Pepsi Center, CFR co-sponsored a roundtable discussion moderated by NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw on the international issues facing the United States.
National security will be today’s theme at the Democratic National Convention, a day after former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) called for party unity around the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and former President Bill Clinton will speak to the convention this evening.
DENVER — One of the (few) nice things about being housed 15 miles from the site of the actual convention – yes, hotel rooms downtown were tough to come by even for CFR – is the serendipitous conversations you find yourself having in the Marriott breakfast nook, in the taxi queue. In this case, as I stepped into my rental car to head for the Pepsi Center, a nattily dressed fellow tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Any chance I can bum a ride?” He turned out to be Peter A. Brown, chief pollster for the respected Quinnipiac University Poll, and I made sure he paid for his 20-minute ride downtown by peppering him about the relative position of foreign policy issues in the collective mind of the electorate. Brown is known in his trade as a man who knows as much as anyone about the attitudes of the electorate in a series of key “swing” states. This time around, he has focused much of his attention on Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, three states with a history of splitting their votes between Republicans and Democrats and deciding elections. Interestingly, in this cycle, he says, international issues – particularly if “free trade” and “immigration” can be included–are playing relatively high in all three. Generally, all three include large numbers of centrist voters often characterized as “Reagan Democrats,” people Brown sees as naturally attracted to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) maverick reputation, but also comfortable with the economic populism espoused at times by Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) campaign, and with less fervor to date, by Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL). “Going protectionist could present great opportunities to Obama,” Brown says. Not only will it shore up his support among Hillary Clinton voters who might be giving McCain a hard look; It also puts the McCain camp in a difficult position in a bad economy when the emotional arguments against free trade are finding traction in the middle and working classes.On the other hand, Brown sees the return of Russian assertiveness in the Caucasus as an issue which “has done a great favor for McCain.” The thinking among political professionals, he says, is that instability of any kind generally will favor the Arizona Republican, with his long record on national security issues. “The exception in Iraq, where relative calm makes it a more difficult issue for the Democrats to highlight,” he says. “But don’t get me wrong, the Iraq war, even with the recent changes there, remains very unpopular.”
DENVER — From the CFR/Foreign Affairs booth here* at the Democratic National Convention, sandwiched between the workspaces of TIME, the Christian Science Monitor and the huge space shared by the Washington Post and Slate, foreign policy issues appear not to rank very highly so far on the radar of the working press. Day One’s focus on “The Family,” where Michelle Obama and Nancy Pelosi took center stage, barely touched on international issues. Democrats divided their convention into themes, and “National Security” doesn’t get its spot in the sun until Wednesday. Still, with American troops embroiled in two major conflicts, the global economy flagging due to high energy prices and the damage done by America’s credit markets, several foreign journalists have remarked to me that they are shocked that global issues have not been more prominently on display. “We thought Iraq would be front-and-center in all discussions here,” says Max Deveson of the BBC. “So far, it’s about the show, not the substance.” Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), the Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman whose selection as Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) running mate led to a flurry of foreign policy analysis over the weekend, will speak Wednesday. A question on many minds here: Does the “Gelb-Biden” plan, the proposal for a more federalized Iraqi government structure advocated by the senator and CFR President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb since 2006, now become part of the Obama platform? Biden’s foreign policy positions are well-known otherwise and tracked in detail by CFR.org. It’s hardly controversial to note at this point that political conventions in modern times really are more style than substance, and so carefully channeling the “message” of each party into pre-planned theme days makes some sense. Still, foreign policy is not totally absent. John Irbittsen of the Toronto’s Globe and Mail, one of the sharper foreign observers of U.S. politics, writes that among Obama’s tasks here is putting forth a detailed economic program, perhaps one which puts Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on the spot for his advocacy of free trade, and capitalizes on public unease over everything from the Iraq war to high energy prices.
Fighting between Russia and Georgia received more U.S. media coverage than the presidential campaign last week, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study of news storylines between August 11 and 17 shows 26 percent of all news coverage focused on the conflict, while the presidential campaign received 21 percent of the coverage. This marks the first time in nine months that the campaign has not been the top news story. The conflict between Russia and Georgia also dominated campaign news itself, as candidates detailed their own views on how to handle the situation. According to the Pew report, 14 percent of campaign coverage last week was related to the crisis.