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N2K Presidential Race: Romney Looks to Burnish Foreign Policy Chops N2K Presidential Race: Romney Looks to Burnish Foreign Policy Chops

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Homepage / N2K Presidential Race

N2K Presidential Race: Romney Looks to Burnish Foreign Policy Chops

(CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP)

July 23, 2012

Stuck in the backstage shadows of a presidential campaign dominatend by the economy, international issues get a rare moment in the spotlight this week.

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney will have give important foreign-policy speeches before the Republican challenger leaves on a three-country trip designed to highlight his differences with the current administration’s diplomacy. The president addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno on Monday, with his opponent taking the same podium on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, Romney leaves for London, the start of a trip he hopes will reassure allies overseas, who always fret about change in U.S. leadership, as well as voters back home, who always worry when a governor with no foreign-policy experience wants to be president.

The dueling speeches and the trip come against a backdrop of a presidential campaign that has given little attention to the diplomatic difficulties awaiting the next president. The dozens of GOP debates in the primaries included only a handful of questions on international issues with base-friendly rhetoric substituting for thoughtful discussion.

No one expects foreign policy to determine the winner of the election or achieve the high place on the agenda it enjoyed during the Cold War. But Romney faces the same challenge of any diplomatically inexperienced challenger taking on an incumbent: He must show that he is sure-footed enough to pass the threshold test that he can be trusted to be commander in chief.

--George E. Condon Jr.


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