Presidential Polls 2012: 7 Reasons Why the Romney Foreign Policy Is Failing With Voters

On Monday, Romney wrote a scathing attack of Obama’s foreign policy, attempting to make gains in an area that had for months been one of Obama’s strongest polling points. With the first debate on domestic policy fast approaching and Romney behind in the polls, his new foreign policy focus appears to be an attempt to divert attention away from his uninspiring domestic plans. But with Obama continuing to be the foreign policy favorite, will Romney be successful?

Here are the top 7 reasons Romney’s foreign policy will fall flat with voters:

1) Romney is fast to criticize, but fails to contrast his plan of foreign policy “strength” with Obama’s policies.

In his recent op-ed, Romney outlines his vision for American foreign policy based upon economic strength, military strength, and strength of values. Despite his assertion that his vision will “require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing,” his official stances mirror the president’s. He upholds policies of tighter sanctions and diplomacy with Iran — which is Obama’s plan — stopping short of suggesting war. Likewise, he offers no solution to the turmoil surrounding the Benghazi attacks and recent worldwide anti-America demonstrations, though he criticizes Obama for allowing the Middle East “to descend into chaos.” He seems to have ignored the incessant PR campaign the Obama administration waged oversees at the height of the protests, and offers no alternative to how his administration’s “strength of values” would have handled the situation differently. It’s worthwhile to criticize Obama’s foreign policy record, but show us how you’re different, Governor Romney.   

2) Romney failed his first foreign policy test, and Americans don’t grant Gentleman’s C’s.

On his first foreign tour as a presidential candidate, Romney made major errors which drew deep criticism abroad. He offended the U.K. with his comments about their handling of the summer Olympics, insulted Muslims by calling Palestinian culture inferior, and used tough words against Iran while in Netanyahu’s presence. His only foreign tour was full of gaffes ... is he really presidential material?

3) Romney says he will be a better friend to Israel, but Israel already has a BFF in Obama.

Obama has vowed to “do what we must” to stop Iranian nuclear advancement, differing from Netanyahu only in deciding drawing a cartoon bomb before a UN audience might be superfluous. His record demonstrates he’s a true friend to Israel, fully financing and providing technical assistance for Israel’s Iron Dome defense in addition to providing $3 billion annually for Israeli military assistance. Romney could criticize Obama’s policy on Iran, but the sanctions appear to be working, and Israel is changing its policy to more closely resemble Obama’s.

4) Americans are tired of foreign wars and want tax dollars spent on America’s domestic problems.  

According to research by the Chicago Council, Americans want “more effective and less costly ways to project positive U.S. influence abroad.” Americans prefer less use of force and would support spending cutbacks, including to the Defense Department. Romney wants to increase defense spending and has made hawkish remarks that should frighten those leery of war.

5) Romney criticizes Obama’s response to the Benghazi attacks, but his was no better.

Remember the remarks Romney made after the breaching of American embassies in the Middle East? He sought political points at a time of vulnerability for our nation rather than demonstrating what true, unifying leadership looks like during a period of turmoil.  

6) If Romney is seen as out-of-touch domestically, just imagine him abroad.

The uphill relatability battle the Republican presidential nominee faces in the U.S. is nothing compared to what he will face when confronted with foreign ideologies, cultures, and customs. While Obama has sought to build bridges with the Muslim world, highlighting our “mutual interest and mutual respect,"  Romney’s most prominent message to the Muslim world thus far has been to say that he will not apologize for America’s values. I want to see bridges built with foreign nations, not burnt.

7) The foreign policy advisers of a Romney administration will return us to the Golden Age of Bush foreign policy.

Romney has developed a dream team of neoconservative advisors that will reinstate the kind of policies and ideology that made the Bush administration infamous abroad. One of his closest advisors on foreign policy, Dan Senor, has been described as an “advocate of neoconservative thinking that has sought to push presidents to the right for years on Middle East policy.”  

While Obama’s foreign policy has had “bumps in the road,” Romney should gain no voter confidence with his vague vision and unfortunate foreign affairs record. To really change voter’s minds, Romney will have to do much better in articulating how he will be different — and better — than Obama on foreign policy. 

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Danielle Gram

Danielle is a graduate of Harvard College where she earned an AB in Religion and Sociology. After graduating in 2011, she traveled in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as a Sheldon Fellow, exploring issues arising from conflict and crisis. Danielle is the cofounder of the international nonprofit, Kids for Peace (www.kidsforpeaceglobal.org). Her main PolicyMic interests include foreign affairs, domestic politics, and geopolitical strategy.

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