Mitt Romney's Views On Syria: Arm The Rebels, Keep U.S. Military Out
During the last presidential debate Tuesday, in Boca Raton, Florida, moderater Bob Schieffer asked the candidates, "Should we reassess our policy and see if we have a better way to influence policy there?"
Obama's policy has been to let the Syrians decide their own fate. Despite their pleas and protests, he has refused to supply them with arms because he doesn't want to see them eventually end up in the hands of terrorists.
"What we're seeing happen in Syria is heartbreaking," Obama said. "But…getting more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step….I am confident Assad's days are numbered."
He said giving weapons to Syrians is not a long-term safe bet yet.
Romney said the U.S. must make sure arms don't go into wrong hands, but he didn't offer any clues into how he would do that.
"We want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place, steps that in the years to come we see Syria as a friend, and Syria as a responsible party in the Middle East," he said, offering an explanation as to why it made sense to appease the rebels. "This is a critical opportunity for America."
He criticized Obama for deferring to other Arab nations in helping shape U.S. Middle East policy instead of being a leader in and of itself.
But he said the military doesn't need to get involved to exert that leadership.
"This isn't going to be necessary," he said. "This should have been a time for leadership, not militarily, organizationally."
Asked about Egypt by Schieffer, Obama started talking about domestic policy. Romney followed suit in his response.
"For America to be successful in this region, there's some things we're going to do at home as well…we've neglected building our own economy," Obama said.
Romney said, "For us to be able to promote those principles of peace requires us to be strong. And that begins with a strong economy here at home. Unfortunately, the economy is not stronger. When the -- when the president of Iraq -- excuse me, of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that's a frightening thing."