Candidates’ Foreign Policy Stances Take Center Stage

BY Christina Bellantoni and Cassie M. Chew  July 24, 2012 at 9:26 AM EST

Mitt Romney; photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Mitt Romney is set to visit England, Israel and Poland. Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Here’s a multiple choice question to start the day. When voters sit down to make their decision for the Nov. 6 contest, which of these events will be most influential?

a) Mitt Romney’s trip overseas and renewed foreign policy push.
b) The new USA Today poll showing Romney “scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs.”
c) The selection of Romney’s running mate.

Though the campaigns will put renewed attention on what’s happening abroad, the economy is still the biggest driver of how Americans will select the next president.

USA Today’s Susan Page writes that 63 percent of those surveyed said Romney’s business background and work at Bain Capital “would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.” She adds:

The findings raise questions about Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2% unemployment rate are costing the president.

But the poll showed Mr. Obama is considered more likable than Romney, which is perhaps one reason the president appeals directly to the camera in a new television spot airing in a handful of battleground states.

It’s one of the rare positive ads to come out of Chicago. The campaign said it will appear on televisions in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Mr. Obama outlines a choice that “couldn’t be bigger,” one that is “between two very different plans for our country.” He paints the presumptive GOP nominee as someone who wants to cut taxes for “the very top” and roll back regulations.

“I believe the only way to create an economy built to last is to strengthen the middle class, asking the wealthy to pay a little more so we can pay down our debt in a balanced way,” the president says.

Watch the ad here or below.

As for the foreign trip that begins Wednesday, with Romney planning to visit England, Israel and Poland over several days, the Republican is looking to contrast himself sharply with the president. He will begin that push Tuesday afternoon in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev.

A Romney adviser told Politico’s Mike Allen that the basic message at the VFW will be: “President Obama promised to lead on foreign policy, but by his own measure and the goals he set to accomplish, he has failed. One time after another, President Obama has set out to appease our adversaries, only to see them take advantage of his perceived weakness.”

When the president spoke to the same group on Monday, he focused on his record of helping veterans. The Obama campaign, however, lashed out at Romney, painting his trip as one with few policy specifics.

“[Romney] needs to prove he’s willing to have open and honest discussions about his world views, about his beliefs, about his policies with some of our strongest allies,” Michele Flournoy, a campaign adviser and former Pentagon official, said on a conference call.

NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli was on the call and reported that the campaign was trying to contrast the Republican’s trip with what Mr. Obama did as a candidate in July 2008, including his multiple television interviews. The campaign said the then-senator’s trip was “substantive” and not about politics.

Flournoy also noted that the Obama administration had “made a lot of progress” after “incredible strain” from former President George W. Bush’s policies.

The NewsHour will have more about Romney’s trip and a look at each man’s foreign policy positions on Tuesday night.

Oh, and about those veepstakes? We still don’t know. But it’s a safe bet Romney won’t be announcing his choice on foreign soil, so don’t expect anything before Tuesday when he returns.

DISPATCH FROM FLORIDA

The dismal housing market and jobs numbers are two of the issues Florida voters will be considering as they decide whether to cast a vote for Mr. Obama or Romney this November, NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff reported after a trip to the state last week.

Voters told Judy that neither Mr. Obama nor Romney seem to be offering an economic plan about which they can get excited.

Watch Judy’s report here or below:

So does it matter who wins Florida? Game out scenarios with the NewsHour’s Vote 2012 Map Center. You can share your Electoral College map with your friends using Twitter and Facebook.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Judy and Gwen Ifill will lead a discussion about the 2012 campaign at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington on Tuesday.

  • The Justice Department is investigating Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. Ray Suarez will have more on Tuesday’s NewsHour.

  • The Boston Globe examines Romney’s record on the Olympics and finds he was “unwilling to share so much as a budget with a state board responsible for spending oversight.” Christopher Rowland and Callum Borchers write, “Archivists now say most key records about the Games’ internal workings were destroyed under the supervision of a staff member shortly after the flame was extinguished at Olympic Cauldron Park, after Romney had returned to Massachusetts.”

  • The Republican National Committee announced it had $89 million in the bank at the end of June. The Democratic National Committee had $37.5 million.

  • Just after the president spoke at the VFW convention, Romney announced endorsements from veterans service organization leaders.

  • Romney is using surrogates to point out that Mr. Obama has not visited Israel as president.

  • A new web ad from Team Obama hits back against a Romney campaign spot, saying he “deliberately altered the meaning of the president’s words” on the “You didn’t build that” quote.

  • The president’s campaign tells Chris Cillizza that Democrats shouldn’t be worried about the spending burn rate.

  • Latino Decisions is out with a new poll of potential voters following the Supreme Court’s decision on the Arizona immigration measure.

  • “We all have a relative who spends all their time forwarding those crazy email chains,” Stephanie Cutter says in a new Obama campaign web spot rebutting claims from Romney.

  • The Republican National Committee goes after the president’s jobs record in a new web video.

  • Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill diva Neda Semnani promises that if you watch this musical ditty made by a Romney supporter, “your day will automatically be wonderful.”

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • On Monday’s NewsHour, Gwen looked at gun laws in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colo. Watch the segment here.

  • Chad Pergram notes that Congress has a history of doing nothing to change gun laws after tragedies.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and letting them lapse for those earning $250,000 or more. Senators will vote Wednesday.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday that Reid is acting like a “dictator.”

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller has the lede of the morning: “A gay candidate for Congress walks into a bar. No joke: Nothing happens.”

  • Iowa Democrats want Hillary Clinton in 2016, a new Public Policy Polling survey shows.

  • That’s right, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner defended Huma Abedin in the Muslim Brotherhood name-calling dustup.

  • The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman looks at those bizarre member-vs.-member races fueled by redistricting.

  • Sarah Palin took sides in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary.

  • Politico writes that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants to use the Bush tax cuts debate against GOP House members on the campaign trail. Welcome back to fall 2010.

  • Scoop of the day by Danny Hakim in the New York Times: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration…has now begun editing his record as New York attorney general, sending aides to the state archives to remove key documents from public view.”

  • Shira Toeplitz outlines for Campaigns and Elections the women in campaign war rooms.

  • Just for fun, meet Snickers of Nebraska.

  • Yes, this is a real campaign site.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • First lady Michelle Obama attends a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, at 12:10 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney addresses the VFW National Convention in Reno, Nev., at 2 p.m.

  • President Obama attends a private campaign event in Portland, Ore., at 4:50 p.m., speaks to supporters at the Oregon Convention Center at 7:10 p.m. and speaks at two private fundraisers in Hunts Point, Wash., at 9:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.