Middle East May Loom Large in Final Debate

President Obama Should Have Edge Over Romney on Foreign Policy

getty images

By Reuters

Published October 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney face off on Monday in their third and final debate, it will be the Republican challenger’s last best chance to recover from his botched “Libya moment” and exploit vulnerabilities in his opponent’s foreign policy record.

But Romney has an uphill struggle to make his case against Obama, who will be buoyed by the advantages of incumbency as well as polls showing him with an edge - though a shrinking one - on the question of who is more trusted in global affairs.

This week’s debate in Boca Raton, Florida, coming just 15 days before the election and devoted entirely to foreign policy, could be the riskiest of the three nationally televised showdowns for Romney, largely because of his inexperience and recent blunders on the world stage.

Romney’s missteps in criticizing Obama’s handling of a deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi - the focus of a vividly testy exchange in the previous debate - have complicated his broader strategy of trying to cast the president as a weak steward of American power abroad.

Deprived of one of his most potent lines of attack, expect Romney to instead focus more of his criticism on Obama’s policies toward Iran, Israel, Syria, China, Afghanistan and Russia.

“Obama has a record, and Romney doesn’t, so he can just cherry-pick the arguments,” said Jon Alterman, a former State Department policy planner now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. “But that doesn’t mean any of it will stick.”

Romney’s aides hope that chipping away at Obama’s credibility on foreign policy and national security - areas the White House once saw as largely immune from Republican attack - can help put him over the top with undecided voters in the final weeks of a White House race still too close to call.

Obama’s policies have faced setbacks recently, from challenges to U.S. interests in the Middle East to a string of attacks on U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan by the Afghan troops they are supposed to be training.

A report in The New York Times that the Obama administration has agreed in principle with Iran to hold one-on-one talks over Tehran’s nuclear program could provide a fresh avenue for Romney to cast Obama as too willing to accommodate.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, Romney’s sparring partner in mock debates ahead of Monday night, warned Obama against sidelining U.S. allies in the diplomatic front against Iran.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.