On points, President Barack Obama came away the winner in last night’s debate with Republican Mitt Romney on foreign policy – but only on points.
By definition, a businessman will be at a disadvantage to a commander-in-chief when overseas affairs are the topic – and Romney’s uneasiness on several topics was clear, though he finished strong.
But while Obama had to show mastery, Romney merely had to dispose of any talk that he might be another George W. Bush, eager to send U.S. troops into this fray or that – turning off both independents and the Rand Paul wing of his party.
Which is why Romney in many ways feinted to Obama’s left, with the most provocative example being his early, backhanded praise of the president on the death of the architect of 9/11. “I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership of al-Qaeda. But we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” the GOP candidate said.
If you want to pick out a loser from last night, it would be the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize – the continent of Europe. With its economy in tatters, capable of dragging the United States into a second recession – talk about your link between foreign affairs and domestic policy – the state of the European Union merited only the barest of mentions.
A few video highlights:
Below is the clip generating the most talk this morning –Obama’s somewhat snarky reply to Romney’s demand for a larger U.S. Navy. Said Obama:
”Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater – nuclear submarines. The question is not a game of battleships, where we’re counting ships.”
If there was genuine news out of this confrontation, it was the signal from Romney that, should he be elected, U.S. foreign policy will not take any sharp turns in January. Romney declared himself at one with Obama on the withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and a refusal to use U.S. military to intervene in Syria. The GOP candidate also declared his difference with Obama on capping Iran’s nuclear capability to be one of tone rather than approach. Watch a piece of it:
Romney’s strongest moment in the debate may have been the renewal of his accusation that Obama had engaged in an “apology tour” to Arab countries – while skipping Israel. His campaign is highlighting portions of the clip below this morning.
“By the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And in those nations, and on Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that, on occasion, America had dictated to other nations. Mr. President, America hasn’t dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.”
Obama harkened back to his 2008 candidacy and a trip to Israel. “I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself [of] the nature of evil,” the president said. Watch here:
The link between foreign and domestic policy was at its strongest when the topic of China came up. Romney accused China of stealing U.S. technology, and repeated his declaration that he would declare that country to be a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
“I want a great relationship with China. China can be our partner. But that doesn’t mean they can roll all over us and steal our jobs,” the former Massachussets governor said.
Obama replied by accusing Romney of shipping U.S. jobs overseas as a businessman, and of encouraging the growth of automobile manufacturing in China – not Detroit.
“If we had taken your advice, governor Romney, about the auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China,” the president said.
Protested Romney: “I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars.” Watch here:
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider