Europe Says "No" To Romney, But He May Have Traction In The Middle East
These results are not surprising.
Europeans were elated when Obama took over the presidency, and he’s given them little reason to cringe since. Europe’s largely left-leaning governments welcome Obama’s plans for universal health care. Obama has also largely left his hands clean when dealing with debt crises and economic leadership in Europe, preferring to lead a passive relationship with our western allies.
On the other hand, Romney remains essentially unknown in Europe. His major claim to fame came this summer in a botched international appearance in which he questioned London’s preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Europe was not pleased.
But Romney’s campaign expected these numbers.
President Obama and his administration have the upper hand in foreign affairs experience. This statement holds true with virtually any incumbent presidency. Romney has therefore virtually neglected addressing foreign affairs in his appearances and speeches. Instead, the former Governor of Massachusetts has consistently attacked current administration on failed economic policy and rising unemployment. These attacks hit closer to home for the United States constituency that will determine if Romney is elected.
However, there is a glimmer of hope in the poll for Romney and his foreign affair strategy.
Pakistan respondents said a Romney victory would lead to slightly better opinions of the United States, with 13 percent saying it would make them more favorable, and nine percent saying it would make them less favorable. Only eight percent of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa said it would make them think less favorably of the United States.
For the largely globally unknown Romney, the poll seems to show evidence of anger against Obama rather than support of Romney. Obama has recently gained notoriety for his wavering relations in the Middle East, especially with U.S. ally, Israel.
Obama rebuffed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the Prime Minister asked for a meeting earlier this week. He also shot down, via telephone, the Israeli request that Iran be given a severe limit in its nuclear production. GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said Obama’s approach to ally Israel is "bordering on contempt."
White House reactions to Tuesday’s attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya have further put Obama’s foreign strategy on display. The president originally said the attack, which killed US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three additional Americans, was likely related to anti-Islam filmmaking in the U.S.; Libyan officials, however, have said the anger over the film was merely a cover-up for the attacks, which occurred on September 11. The Obama campaign has refused to make this claim.
Obama’s weekly address Saturday changed course from his previous statements this week. He said the United States “must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice.” This statement largely echoes Romney’s from three or four days earlier, when he blasted Obama for not immediately condemning the attacks.
As tensions in the Middle East grow, presidential candidates and their respective foreign affair strategies will likely continue to be showcased. The Romney campaign is now forced to focus on international policy, a play that could prove powerful in the coming weeks as international opinion of Obama wavers.