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!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • 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.