Politico announced yesterday “a major foreign policy offensive” in their article titled, Exclusive: Romney weighs foreign-policy tour by Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin.
The article stresses that Governor Romney is still planning exactly which stops to make and may include five or more nations (until I read this, I had not realized that President Obama has never visited Israel as President!). Tentatively, these include Great Britain, Israel, Germany, Poland, and possibly Afghanistan. Plans are expected to be finalized this next week and Romney will kick off the tour with a “news-making” speech at the VFW convention in Reno. Following are excerpts from the Politico article.
The presumptive GOP nominee then is slated to travel to London for the start of the Olympics and to give a speech in Great Britain on U.S. foreign policy.
The trip to London provides Romney with the chance to both reinforce America’s “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and to remind voters of his leadership role in rescuing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Israel (Middle East)
Readers that are new to MRC may have missed two prior posts by Jacob Kornbluh about Israel. His post of April 27th references the 36-year friendship between Governor Romney and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and just four days ago he wrote about Romney’s plans to visit Israel this summer. The Politico article continues,
Romney next would fly to Israel for a series of meetings and appearances with key Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Still, he [Bill Kristol] said Romney could make more of his trip to the Mideast with other stops beyond Israel.
“I think it would be nice if he went to Afghanistan,” Kristol said. “I think it would be nice if he visited the troops defending the country. I think it would be nice if he went in a very apolitical way.”
Then there will be an unspoken if obvious contrast when the Republican visits Israel, a country that Obama has yet to go to as president and the first place abroad Romney has said he’ll travel to if he wins in November.
In Israel, Romney will, as was first reported by The New York Times, meet with people across the ideological spectrum. He’ll sit down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but also the Labor opposition, Obama’s envoy to Tel Aviv, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, and the head of the Palestinian Authority. These sit-downs will help Romney push back against the idea that he’s merely in the Jewish state to curry favor with an influential political constituency. But even Republicans are candid about what the Israel trip could mean for the campaign.
“There are a lot of donors and potentially a few voters in places like Florida for which it sticks in people’s craw that Obama hasn’t been there yet,” said one informal foreign policy adviser to Romney’s campaign. It is also a place that resonates with the party’s evangelical base.
Romney officials are hoping to arrange a meeting between the candidate and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. While Merkel and Obama have been in frequent contact recently over the European debt crisis, she generally favors a policy of austerity that varies from Obama’s support for government stimulus spending.
Romney’s trek to Poland may not offer the same political dividends but will be as symbolically weighted given recent events and the Republican’s tough talk about Russia.
While Bush famously praised the Polish contribution — “You forgot Poland” — to the Iraq War, the relationship between Obama and Warsaw has not been as warm.
The Poles were angry when Obama in 2009, on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, announced plans to back out of a missile shield agreement and have been more generally uneasy about the administration’s “reset” policy toward Moscow.
More recently, Obama infuriated Poles when he misspoke in a White House ceremony and referred to “Polish death camps” when referring to Nazi concentration camps. Then there was the president’s hot mic moment with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year where Obama said he’d “have more flexibility” to deal with missile defense in a second term.
“There’s this sense that America is looking elsewhere, and then there are these horrendous misstatements,” said Andrew Michta, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund and director of the think tank’s office in Warsaw, on the view among Polish elites toward the U.S. administration. “There’s a general perception that the United States is putting distance between itself and Europe. In central Europe, you feel this.”
Michta also noted that Obama has yet to speak at a public event in the country — a contrast with both Bush and former President Bill Clinton.
Romney has taken a hard-line stance toward Moscow, saying after Obama’s overheard conversation with Medvedev that Russia is America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” The remark was seized on by Democrats and criticized by some Republicans as an overreach. Still, other Republicans argue there is enough merit to the claim that Russia needs to be viewed with suspicion that Romney shouldn’t abandon the argument altogether.
I was excited to hear about this “foreign-policy” trip Governor Romney is planning. There are so many advantages to such a trip aside from the obvious. Most important to me is the opportunity Governor Romney will have to meet with world leaders, one on one to discuss international issues with an eye to the future.
This reminds me of the naive statements Mr. Obama made in 2007 and 2008 when he scolded President Bush for not solving the Iranian crisis by extending the hand of friendship to Iran and through diplomatic negotiation — how is that working out Mr. President? Americans are embarrassed by Mr. Obama’s passive and apologetic foreign policy. President Romney will not take a passive approach to foreign policy.
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