Romney Targets Foreign Policy, Heads Abroad
Romney kicked off the foreign policy leg of his campaign by speaking with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno. In his speech, Romney criticized Obama for mishandling relations with Israel and for failed negotiations with Iran on nuclear weapon developments. He continued to attack the president on issues concerning leaked national security information, describing the intel leaks as a method of "political gain."
In response to Romney's charges that the leaks were intentional, the White House released a statement, acknowledging Obama "has no tolerance for leaks" and that the matter is being investigated by federal prosecutors.
Blame also fell on Obama for planned defense spending cuts. Romney's speech said the automatic defense cuts established last summer by Congress will bring "devastation" and weaken the Department of Veterans Affairs, something he "will not allow to happen."
Obama touched on Romney's criticism of defense cuts in his Veterans of Foreign Wars speech, given Monday, defending his support for service members. Citing the end of the Iraq war, the takedown of Osama bin Laden and the economic benefits for returning soldiers established by his administration, the president pledged his continued support for U.S. troops.
“As we look ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that’s required, you don’t just have my words, you have my deeds,” Obama said. “You have the promises I’ve made and the promises that I’ve kept.”
This will mark Romney's first campaign trip overseas. According to the Washington Post, Romney's advisors attempted to set low expectations for the trip abroad:
"They say it is an opportunity for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to learn and listen in three countries that are among America’s staunchest allies. He will hold a series of private meetings with foreign leaders, deliver speeches in Israel and Poland, attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, visit historical sites and conduct interviews with U.S. television networks."
Romney's campaign switch up could come at an opportune time. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll showed that 52 percent of Americans believe Obama can better handle foreign policy concerns, opposed to 40 percent who saw Romney as better-equipped in this area. A trip overseas would allow Romney to shine the spotlight on issues so far neglected in the campaign sphere and increase the public's confidence on his international policy handling.
CNN reported that despite Romney's attack on the president for diminishing America's power, the presumptive GOP candidate's policies don't differ all that much. Like the Obama Administration, Romney has fought for sanctions, coalition-building and additional diplomatic approaches reflective of Obama's policies. Yet Romney looks to distance himself from Obama by hammering the president for yielding power and influence to other nations and decreasing the country's ability to lead.
According to the Washington Post, Romney's overseas trip mirrors one taken by Obama four years ago on his quest for presidency. Back in 2008, Obama used the international platform to prove his competency on foreign policy, addressing key issues on the war in Afghanistan, Bush's Iraq policy and relations with Israel. Despite faltering on several issue, the Post called the trip "a huge success" despite breaking no ground on foreign policy.
Following in Obama's rhetorical footprints, Romney's trip looks less likely to announce any big policy announcements, instead focusing on meeting with the top leaders of the United States European allies. Any additional attacks on Obama are expected to halt for the next six days, as Romney's aides indicated he will respect the custom of not speaking badly about a president while abroad.
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