You can say this for Mitt Romney: He stands his ground, just as his father did more than 40 years ago.
“Apology for America’s values is never the right course,” the Republican presidential nominee declared at a news conference on Wednesday morning.
But what if America’s values are themselves part of the problem? The unavoidable, if unpleasant, truth is that the advent of democracy in the region has presented Washington with a giant headache.
The new democratic movements have mainly empowered Islamist parties and groups in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. So the Obama administration has little choice but to engage these groups. But they tend to be anti-American (and anti-Israel), so Obama must do so warily, often with what Romney thunderingly criticizes as “mixed signals.”
Romney insists he is speaking out only in an effort to correct Obama’s “disgraceful” mistakes in the region, including his failure to confront Iran more forcefully over its nuclear-weapons program.
But if Romney is wrong — and even some of his fellow Republicans have questioned the tenor and timing of his remarks — then he may end up looking as naïve George Romney did in 1967 when the Michigan governor declared he had gotten a “brainwashing” on Vietnam, thus undoing his own presidential bid. Read more.
— Michael Hirsh
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Who’s Getting the Mideast Crisis Right?
[National Journal, 9/14/12] Since the Arab Spring, every American president — not just Obama — must walk a very careful line between supporting democracy in the Arab world and showing caution about whose hands it falls into. NJ’s Michael Hirsh breaks down Obama’s and Romney’s positions.
Romney on ABC: Anti-Muslim Film Is Dispiriting and Wrong
[National Journal, 9/14/12] Romney’s statements on Friday on the inflammatory film that has ignited protests across the Middle East were strikingly similar to what Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have been saying since the attack in Libya on Tuesday.
Ryan Blasts Obama in First Major Social-Issues Speech
[National Journal, 9/14/12] GOP veep pick Paul Ryan appealed to Catholic voters on Friday with a harsh indictment of Obama’s values and leadership. Ryan focused on the controversial executive order from the White House earlier this year that required religiously affiliated organizations to cover employees’ birth control.
The Cook Political Report: Obama’s a Good Bet
[National Journal, 9/13/12] Charlie Cook writes that if Obama is reelected, it will be despite the economy and because of his campaign; if Romney wins, it will be because of the economy and despite his campaign. As things stand now, without a change in trajectory, it’s a good bet that Obama will come out on top.
Romney Trying to Shift Back to Economy
[Associated Press, 9/14/12] As Obama plays up his role as commander in chief, Romney is trying to shift the focus back to the economy by accusing Obama of ignoring Chinese trade violations and pointing to a new Fed effort to bolster the economy as evidence of the president’s weak politics.
Romney Statement on Iran at Odds With His Foreign Policy Advisers’
[New York Times, 9/14/12] While Romney has offered a position on Iran that is similar to the president’s, two of his senior advisers were saying Romney would draw a hard line on the country’s nuclear program well before Obama would.
Michelle Obama Plays Defender-in-Chief
[RealClearPolitics, 9/14/12] While much of the Obama campaign has been about defining Romney, the first lady has made her husband’s record in office a centerpiece.
Editorial: The Obama Street Journal
[Wall Street Journal, 9/14/12] The Journal accused Obama in an editorial on Friday of exploiting the paper’s name in a “false” TV ad that claims challenger Romney’s tax plan will raise taxes on the middle class to pay for tax breaks for millionaires.
In Focus on Veterans, Obama Plays the Long Game
[National Journal, 9/14/12] Obama isn’t expected to win the military vote, which tends to lean Republican. But the focus at the Democratic convention on odes to the military could have a longer-term payoff: bolstering the party’s national-security credentials.
Editorial: Romney's China-Bashing Talks Useless to U.S. Economy
[Xinhua News Agency, 9/14/12] After Romney’s remarks that Obama has failed to stop “China’s cheating,” authorities in Beijing are pushing back, calling the remarks “as false as they are foolish.” The official Chinese news agency warns of a “catastrophic” trade war if Romney’s “mud-slinging tactics” were to become U.S. policies.
News Flash: Romney Snores and Likes Peanut Butter, Snooki
[National Journal, 9/14/12] Just a few of the personal details revealed in Mitt and Ann Romney’s lighthearted interview on ABC’s Live! With Kelly and Michael: Romney loves peanut-butter sandwiches, is a fan of Jersey Shore’s Snooki, and wants Gene Hackman to play him in a movie.
GOP Rep. Huelskamp: Obama Will Be on Kansas Ballots
[Talking Points Memo, 9/14/12] Kansas Republicans had been threatening to challenge the president’s eligibility over doubts about his citizenship, but one of Kansas’s most conservative members of Congress, GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told TPM in the halls of the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, “He’ll be on the ballot in Kansas.”
Romney on Debates: Obama Will ‘Say Things That Aren’t True’
[ABC News, 9/14/12] Romney took a shot at Obama on Friday, saying that he expects the president to stretch the truth in the pending presidential debates. In an interview that aired on ABC’s Good Morning America, Romney said that he expects Obama will “say a lot of things that aren’t accurate” during the debates. Read the full transcript of the interview.
Romney Tax Cuts Work Only When Mortgage Deduction Mostly Reduced
[Bloomberg, 9/14/12] Romney says he can lower income-tax rates by 20 percent without costing the government revenue and without raising taxes on the middle class. But economics professor Harvey Rosen says this will only work if Congress eliminates the most widely used deductions by taxpayers earning more than $100,000 a year.
Romney’s Base Wants More Red Meat on Obama’s Foreign Policy
[National Journal, 9/14/12] Romney’s hastily recalibrated message, which shifted from criticizing Obama on Libya back to the economy, illustrates the tricky balancing act he and Obama face in the final two months of the race: Both must mobilize their bases, but they also need to reach undecided voters.
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