Mitt Romney's aggressive foreign policy push: Big mistake?

The Week
During a foreign policy speech on Oct. 8, Mitt Romney derided President Obama for having weakened America on the international stage.
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During a foreign policy speech on Oct. 8, Mitt Romney derided President Obama for having weakened America on the international stage.

Team Obama pushes back hard against Romney's speech on international affairs, calling the Republican's tough talk "erratic, unsteady, and irresponsible"

President Obama's campaign is trying to eviscerate Mitt Romney's foreign policy vision, blasting the Republican's plans as "erratic, unsteady, and irresponsible" mere hours after Romney delivered a major address at Virginia Military Institute in which the GOP nominee harshly criticized Obama's record overseas. Romney accused Obama of making America less safe by projecting an image of weakness — by withdrawing from Iraq too quickly, by not doing enough to curb Iran's nuclear program, by failing to make progress toward Middle East peace, and by balking at countering Iran's meddling in Syria's civil war. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright countered that Romney's speech was "full of platitude and free of substance," and Obama advisers said the former Massachusetts governor had "no credibility since he's been both for and against our Libya policy." Was it a mistake for Romney to call so much attention to issues on which voters give Obama high marks?

Romney might regret spotlighting foreign policy: Republicans usually get mileage out of calling Democrats weak, says Justin Vaisse at the Brookings Institution, but that's not the "best electoral strategy" for Romney. It calls attention to Obama's tough reputation — remember "his decisive use of drones" and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? And while Romney's hawkish bluster might impress neoconservatives, it's just as likely to scare the growing number of voters "who are tired of foreign interventions."
"Mitt Romney's foreign policy agenda"

SEE MORE: Mitt Romney backtracks on the '47 percent': Is he in the clear?

Huh? Mitt is simply seizing a golden opportunity: Romney is demonstrating that he understands a central truth of American history: "American weakness harms us, and it harms the world," says David French at National Review. By promising voters that he will fill the leadership void left by Obama's "hope-based, timid, and naive foreign policy," Romney has a chance to build on his post-debate bounce. Conservatives win by making their "case simply and effectively," and that's what Romney's doing.
"If American doesn't lead, others will"

But his foreign policy is a lot like Obama's: It will take more than hawkish "propaganda" for Romney to pass the commander-in-chief test, says The New York Times in an editorial. And beyond his "tough-sounding sound bites," most of his policies are either similar to Obama's — toughen Iran sanctions, aid Syria's rebels — or they're "wrong and even dangerous." Apparently, "the hope seems to be that big propaganda, said loudly and often, will drown out Mr. Obama's respectable record in world affairs, make Americans believe Mr. Romney would be the better leader, and cover up the fact that there is mostly just hot air behind his pronouncements." Voters will see through that. 
"In search of answers from Mr. Romney"

SEE MORE: Will Mitt Romney's post-debate bounce last?

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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