More uneven than any individual component of Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy is the sum of its parts. Recent criticism from the Republican center, most notably Colin Powell’s scoffing, has underscored that how Romney would handle the country’s affairs past the water’s edge is largely unknowable.
Part of this is that his political background is a governorship, which does not lend itself to ventures abroad — save, in Romney’s case, trying to compete with New Hampshire’s limited tax code. Part of it is that the foreign policy he has expounded this campaign has been largely microtargeted to GOP erogenous zones: the China defiant, the Iran hawks, those still smarting from Khrushchev banging his shoe.
And part of it is the diversity of opinion within the Republican Party, which, since President George W. Bush’s departure, has lacked cohesion. Romney inherits a party whose overseas vision is essentially a vacuum, rattling around in which are the starkly different visions of Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.; neocons near Romney like John Bolton and Robert Kagan; and the vestiges of Bush 41 like Powell and Brent Scowcroft.
In a sense, it is liberating for Romney, who can pick and choose his emphases. But the unevenness also lends itself to erraticism, and leaves voters pondering what they’re voting for.
-- Jim O'Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Obama's Bogus War on Bain
[Business Week, 5/25/12] Joshua Green writes that he finds it odd that private equity has become such a huge issue in a national campaign, considering Obama has never made it an issue in his presidency. Even in the Dodd-Frank banking reform, it didn’t factor in the debate. Green points out that while Obama attacks the industry, he holds fundraisers with industry leaders.
Romney Slow To Engage in the Battle for the Hispanic Vote
[National Journal, 5/25/12] So far, President Obama is crushing Mitt Romney in the battle for the Hispanic vote: The president has invested $1 million in Spanish-language media over the last five weeks, while Romney has spent only $13,000 since he clinched the nomination. And while Obama’s ads are specifically targeted to a Hispanic audience, Romney’s are exactly the same as his ads in English, just translated into Spanish.
Rubio Criticizes Obama’s ‘Troubling Chest-Thumping’ on bin Laden
[National Journal, 5/25/12] Potential GOP veep pick Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Friday criticized the Obama administration’s cooperation with a company making a movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, calling the administration’s actions “part of a troubling trend of chest-thumping” that could hamper the military.
Obama Pokes Fun at Romney in Iowa
[Des Moines Register, 5/25/12] Obama traveled to the Hawkeye State on Thursday, where he said his rival gave Iowans a “cowpie of distortion” after warning of the prairie fire of debt” sweeping the nation. The president berated his opponent at the Iowa State Fairgrounds before a crowd of 2,500 people. Check out the front page of the Des Moines Register.
Obama vs. Romney: How Big a Government?
[National Journal, 5/24/12] Few issues illuminate the presidential candidates’ wildly divergent views on the appropriate size and role of the federal government more than taxes, spending, and the deficit. National Journal’s Nancy Cook explores how Romney and Obama differ on fiscal policy.
Romney Holds Key Advantage Among Financially Struggling White Voters
[Washington Post, 5/25/12] The newest Washington Post/ABC News polls shows Romney holding significant advantages over Obama among white voters who are struggling financially and buffeted by job loss. In an election year in which the economy ranks as America’s top concern, this margin could mean disaster for the president.
Rejected Ideas From Romney’s ‘Day One’ Ad
[Funny or Die, 5/24/12] The comedy website Funny or Die has some fun with Romney’s first commercials of the general-election campaign. From “Avoid saying ‘I don’t feel feelings’ ” to “Pin Joe Biden to the ground, shave his fruity haircut,” here are some lines that didn’t make the cut.
Are Romney and Obama Competing for the Austerity Prize?
[TPM, 5/25/12] Obama, Romney, and their surrogates on Capitol Hill are locked in a battle over which candidate and which party will more quickly and effectively reduce the deficit — the opposite of what economists say we need.
[National Journal, 5/24/12] For each group central to his electoral coalition, Obama has either instigated or escalated conflicts with the GOP on symbolically powerful wedge issues. But National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes that the president also needs to lay out a second-term agenda.
[National Review, 5/25/12] Rich Lowry writes that an over-the-top VP with little regard for nuance or truth makes Biden the ideal attack dog — but the worst possible surrogate.
Column: Romney’s Moment
[Wall Street Journal, 5/24/12] In an interview with WSJ’s Peggy Noonan, the GOP candidate opens up about the difference between the 2008 Romney and Romney now, his routine before rallies and town halls, and his iPad.
Obama Stumbles Out of the Gate
[Politico, 5/25/12] Since Obama officially launched his reelection campaign three weeks ago, the president, not Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across as badly political. Most surprisingly, the president is also the one falling behind in fundraising.
Romney’s Quiet Campaign for African American Votes
[Washington Post, 5/24/12] Romney’s camp has been quietly laying the groundwork for an outreach effort to Obama’s most loyal supporters, black voters. But that plan clashed with political realities on the ground in West Philadelphia on Thursday. Check out the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Obama Campaign Gets Wise to GOP Twitter Tricks
[National Journal, 5/24/12] Obama announced a seemingly impromptu Twitter Q&A on Thursday night that actually turned out to have been carefully planned, but the last-minute announcement allowed Obama to avoid Republicans taking over the conversation on social media.
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