Republican Mitt Romney entered Monday night’s debate on foreign policy with the goal of presenting himself as a competent, plausible alternative to President Obama as commander in chief.
But Romney appeared to cede many positions to Obama, moving closer to the president on a range of issues and presenting them in a softer way.
[...] “I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking,” Obama said at one point. “There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that would make a difference.”
One of any number of zingers that President Obama got off during the night and this time, he inflicted wounds on his opponent, rather than stand back and let Mitt swallow his own foot.
The foreign policy debates are the most difficult for both the candidates and the audiences.
Yes. Audiences. I'll get back to that in a moment.
Foreign policy requires a deep understanding of issues that concern other nations as well as the interdependent interplay between nations that most of us don't even pay attention to.
Which is why Romney's comments on Iran are deeply troubling:
Sorry for the extended quote, but Graham's point was excellent, which brings me to the nub of this post.
Foreign policy debates always speak to two audiences: the voters, and the world. Most nations can safely ignore the town hall and economic debates (China and our trading partners have some vested interest, but...)
Foreign policy lays out a candidate's vision of the world, and its future. If a challenger can be seen as a credible President, it will help nations like China and Russia-- and Iran-- figure out how best to deal with him or her.
You have to speak both diplomacy outwardly but inwardly speak to the American people about strength and security. Obama has an huge advantage. He's a known quantity on the world stage. He can speak more to the American people if he so chooses, knowing that his actions already speak for him. He can even bully Iran a little, given that he's lined up Russia and China, both reluctantly, behind him.