The consensus view of Obama's foreign policy boiled down to one issue: He ordered the execution of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"Four words: Osama bin Laden dead," one Democratic Insider said, summing up the sentiment of many insiders surveyed.
Added one Republican: "three words: offed bin Laden. Shows results, though not a game-changer for his election prospects."
On the strength of that accomplishment, 34 percent of Democrats thought foreign policy would "help a lot" with the president's re-election. That's a significant shift on an issue, some Democrats said, that has historically been a weakness in the party.
"Foreign policy and defense issues are typically a Democratic weakness," one left-leaning Insider said. "The fact that this president tracked down Osama, wound down the war in Iraq, and has a plan to keep up the pressure as needed in Afghanistan and Iran makes these issues a Democratic strength, and not a weakness. Mitt may be a successful business guy who likes to fire people, but Barack is a war-time president who's getting the job done."
The president has faced a litany of pressing international issues, from waging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Arab Spring, toward a showdown with Iran over nuclear weapons. Through it all, even some GOP Insiders gave him high marks.
"In spite of partisan criticism, Obama's foreign policy under Hillary Clinton is one of the bright spots of his administration and should help him," said one Republican. "However, unless there is a foreign crisis around the election, foreign policy will not be the focus of this race."
That sentiment was reflected among many Republicans, many of whom said Obama has been successful with foreign policy but that it won't affect his prospects for a second term.
"Reelection politics start and end at home," said one GOP Insider. "This race will be decided on jobs and how people feel about their personal financial security."
Other conservatives argued that the president's foreign policy will eventually harm him in the fall.
"Other than ordering the SEALs to take out bin Laden, what has he actually done?" one Republican asked.
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