Mitt Romney vs. Obama

The most important, and definite, power of the President of the United States is that of directing foreign policy. The executive power is charged with representing America abroad, and dealing with foreign conflicts. According to a new poll Mitt Romney may not be up to the task.

A recent Gallup poll showed that most Americans see Barack Obama as much stronger on foreign policy that his Republican rival Mitt Romney. The new data comes as Romney prepares to travel to England, Israel and Poland in a trip to showcase his foreign policy acumen.

52% of respondents in the poll said that Barack Obama is the best choice for foreign policy concerns, while just 40% picked Mitt Romney. Is this a reflection of reality, or simply an inability of the the Romney campaign to put across its message?

A President can win an election despite a majority of the constituency believing him poor when approaching the most important concerns of the president. Barack Obama clearly demonstrated that in 2008 when he won clearly against the much more experienced John McCain.

Since then the sitting President has presided over several key victories in the foreign policy sphere. The assassination of Osama Bin Laden is probably the most iconic of those. The President has also managed to end the war in Iraq, and take out a number of Al Qaeda Lieutenants.

However, little attention has been paid to Obama’s epic failures in Foreign policy. Some include; the increasing un-winnable and never ending war in Afghanistan, its blundering in regards to Iran, the help America has provided to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the move from Turkey towards radical Islamism. America is now even less popular in places like Egypt.

Mitt Romney has very little proof of experience in dealing with foreign leaders. The trip organized by his campaign will try to portray him as a strong leader with a definite idea of how to use America’s military dominance correctly and decisively.

He will be visiting two of the regions most important to Americans on foreign policy, Israel, and Poland where he will probably take a stand on Russia’s influence in eastern Europe and Central Asia. England, where he will attend the Olympics opening ceremony, will give him a chance to appear statesmanlike.

The trip, discounting any surprises, will probably do little to bolster his foreign policy credentials in comparison to the incumbent. In this Romney might learn something from Obama’s 2008 campaign.

In that contest it was almost inevitable that Obama would lose on foreign policy. His campaign decided to avoid the issue almost entirely. Questions about the candidate’s foreign policy experience were answered with assertions that he would be surrounded with competent advisers who would direct him.

The Romney campaign’s insistence on portraying the Republican as a strong world leader is misplaced. It might be better to concentrate on areas in which the candidate has relative strengths. Undecideds care about the economy, and many trust Romney’s plan above Obama’s.

Mitt Romney may not be weak on foreign policy in practice, but in the eyes of the American public he is. Without an avenue to demonstrate his prowess that is unlikely to change. Bolstering his numbers on the issue at the level they currently sit would not be the worst thing for the candidates prospects.