Mitt Romney Needs to Beef Up His Foreign Policy Credentials
Romney needs to beef up his foreign policy credentials, but the issue might not matter to voters much anyway
September 11, 2012
As president, Mitt Romney would achieve as much foreign policy success as most presidents. He would mold diplomatic, defense, and intelligence institutions to conform to his philosophy and meet little political resistance from Congress. Commander in chief powers give presidents a lot of latitude to decide how the United States projects its military power overseas than when they work to change domestic affairs. Congress determines defense budgets, confirms ambassadors, and ratifies treaties, but representatives have little interest inhibiting these areas, especially as it concerns the troops. Few want to face an electoral backlash because they didn't support them.
Presidents also have a number of tools at their disposal to bypass the legislature, such as executive orders and agreements. Moreover, the courts have expanded presidential power as a result of 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Where Romney is not doing well is in how he's campaigning on the issue. This is an economy election. The few times global affairs have come up, Romney has fallen short. His trip to the United Kingdom during the Olympics and his criticism of British security measures went over like a lead balloon. Regardless of whether or not he was justified, he gave the president an opening for attack. One that Obama featured prominently in his nomination speech, saying, "You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally,"
Romney will need to improve his foreign policy acumen by the debates. But of whether or not the public votes on this issue depends on how prominently the economy ranks in their minds on election day. As of now, foreign policy is about as important to them as checking their spam.