Is a Foreign Policy Tour a Smart Move for Mitt Romney?

The Republican candidate is considering an international trip to boost his foreign policy credentials, but Americans may care more about domestic issues.

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Mitt Romney's campaign is considering a foreign policy tour for later this summer, with stops in Europe and Israel. The trip would be the first major focus on foreign policy for the Republican candidate, whose campaign thus far has stumped mainly on the struggling economy.

The trip would start in London for the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics (Romney was the CEO of the Olympic Organizing Committee in Salt Lake City in 2002). Then the candidate would give a foreign policy speech in Great Britain, meet with government officials in Israel, and then return to Europe for stops in Germany and Poland. A stop in Afghanistan was originally considered, but is no longer included in the itinerary.

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has little foreign policy experience. An international trip could be a chance to paint himself as a more well-rounded candidate, competent on the international front as well as at home. He has also been criticized by both Obama and his own party for failing to provide much in the way of concrete policy plans, instead keeping to vague blanket statements critical of the president's policies.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The stop in Israel would be Romney's fourth visit to the country, where Obama has not traveled while in office. Romney has also vowed the country would be his first international destination as president, and has slammed Obama's policies in Israel. He has said he would "do the opposite" as Obama on Israel, but hasn't gone into further detail.

An Obama campaign spokesman said:

Governor Romney has said he would do the opposite of what President Obama has done in our relations with Israel. Now he must specify how—does that mean he would reverse President Obama's policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history? Does it mean he would let Israel stand alone at the United Nations, or that he would stop funding the Iron Dome system? Does it mean he would abandon the coalition working together to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Yet Middle Eastern affairs could be the last thing on voters' minds. Americans are fixated on a stagnant economy and lackluster job growth, with the June jobs report showing only 80,000 jobs added in that month. Many voters have not been concerned with foreign policy issues, and domestic problems are historically more concerning to voters over foreign ones, especially when the economy is not strong. Other domestic issues like immigration policy, same-sex marriage, and women's rights have also played a role in the campaign.

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