Mitt Romney has not offered Americans much detail on his qualifications as a presidential candidate or insight on what policies he would take if elected to the highest office of the land. Though he has displayed much criticism of the Obama administration on several fronts, very seldom does he follow-up these criticisms with alternative policies. Case in point, this past week Romney has made attempts to differentiate his self by challenging Obama on one of his strongest assets toward re-election – foreign policy.
In a speech given on Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Romney attempted to outline his policy views by accusing the Obama Administration of diminishing American leadership, reducing military capability, provoking a national security crisis and betraying the trust that allies place in the United States.
Romney’s attacks were not followed up with many specific details on these accusations or what he would do to change or improve US foreign policy. However, they did provoke attention and continued to support a perception that the Romney campaign is attempting to portray Obama as disreputable, un-American and disloyal to the United States.
Romney must walk a fine line using this type of rhetoric while attempting to show voters he is better suited to dealing with foreign affairs. A recent NBC poll shows Obama with a ten percentage point lead (45 to 35 percent) over Romney on who is better suited as commander-in-chief and a 16 point Obama lead (48 to 32 percent) on being knowledgeable and experienced enough in foreign policy. Both polls are virtually unchanged since Romney was announced the presumed republican candidate in April.
In a further effort to depict his ability to understand, communicate and lead in the global community, Romney departed this week on a trip abroad visiting the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland. Unfortunately, Romney’s trip did not start off well in London as his visit with the Prime Minister and other officials was overshadowed by several gaffes.
In an interview with NBC on Wednesday, Romney used the term “disconcerting” to describe his opinion of Britain’s handling of the Olympic Games. Headlines like ‘Mit the Twit’ and ‘Who invited him’ were much fodder for British newspapers and television as a result.
Later that day Prime Minister David Cameron admonished Romney by stating “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” said Cameron, a likely reference to Salt Lake City and Utah.
Even more disconcerting were reports by an unnamed Romney campaign advisor quoted by the Daily Telegraph. The advisor commented “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr. Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”. Romney was forced to quickly disavow any suggestion that these comments came from his campaign staff as calls for an apology came from opponents.
Romney’s trip to London will follow with visits to Israel and Poland over the next few days. If he is to sway the opinion of American voters and the global community of his ability to conduct foreign policy, Romney will need to transform his persona from a capitalist American business executive to a more respectful and empathetic diplomat. This is a role that the majority of Americans credit to Obama and one that Romney seems to think is diminishing American leadership and betraying the trust of US allies – two areas Romney has himself failed in on the first initiative of his foreign policy.