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!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • 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.