By Teresa Welsh |
Candidates running for president of the United States have often embarked on international trips to prove to the voters that they can command the world stage. They attempt to garner the respect of the international community and demonstrate that they are ready to be America's next commander in chief. Importantly, these types of trips are not without risk as relationships with our allies and world powers are delicate, intricate, sensitive, and complex, and a verbal gaffe can have profound consequences.
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Western Europe, was greeted with great fanfare, and was able to effectively carry a message of good partnership and collaboration. He presented a welcomed and stark contrast from the cowboy diplomacy of then-President George W. Bush's administration, and was able to demonstrate his command of the nuances of complex relationships and the intricacies of our overseas missions without insulting and offending other nations and their leaders.
The Obama travels in 2008 are in sharp contrast to Mitt Romney's current world tour. Romney's missteps and unforced errors have seemingly stepped on his own objectives and, despite his best intentions, have done more harm than good. Drawing the rebuke of the prime minister of Great Britain and waking up to headlines in London such as "Mitt the Twit" does little to instill confidence that he is ready to lead American on a global stage. Offending Palestinian officials and putting himself immediately on the defensive in one of the most sensitive geopolitical environments does little to demonstrate presidential leadership. Further, to ignore the obvious opportunity to visit U.S. troops aboard offers another curious look at the Romney mindset.
In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 45 percent of those surveyed said Obama would make for the better commander in chief, while just 35 percent said Romney would be best. Romney's trip will do nothing to improve these numbers and instead has seeded more doubt and created more questions than solidify his standing on the world stage.
About Penny Lee President of Venn Strategies
Brandon Rottinghaus Associate Professor at the University of Houston