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Entries in Foreign Policy (38)

Tuesday
Oct232012

Who Won? Political Analysts on the Final Presidential Debate

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- The final presidential debate on foreign policy appeared to be a win for President Obama, but a successful effort by Republican nominee Mitt Romney to return the conversation to the economy, ABC News political analysts said.

“The president won tonight,” said ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd.  “Here’s why: I think they both came in with different agendas, but the president was more successful.”

Dowd, who was a chief strategist in George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, said that for Obama, the debate was a “commander-in-chief’s test” of who would be more decisive and strong as president.  But Romney’s goal was to come across as a moderate who voters can trust.

ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, a veteran Democratic strategist, said that Romney’s lack of experience on the world stage showed in this debate.  And Obama’s advantage of already being in the role of commander-in-chief dominated the session.

“First of all Mitt Romney couldn’t talk about foreign policy because he hasn’t been there and hasn’t traveled enough to understand what’s going on.  I thought President Obama was strong, he was clear.  He knows the threats.  He’s dealt with the threats,” Brazile said.

ABC News analyst Nicolle Wallace, who was a top aide to Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, said that Romney successfully shifted the conversation to the ground that he was more comfortable debating on: the economy.

“The debate on the economy seemed to take President Obama by surprise,” Wallace said.  “Once he caught on, by 10:15 he was groaning on about tires.”

“The sure sign to me it was a win by the Romney campaign is they pulled Obama into a debate about the economy which they feel like is their strong suit,” Wallace said.

In the end, however, this foreign policy debate, which frequently meandered into domestic subjects like the auto bailout, education and entitlements, may be the one least remembered by voters, conservative columnist and ABC News analyst George Will said.

“Tonight you saw two men who don’t really disagree all that much talking about subjects concerning that which voters don’t really care that much,” Will said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Debate Ahead, Romney Gains on Int’l Affairs, Continues to Lag on Economic Priorities

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney carries newfound competitiveness in trust to handle international issues into the final presidential debate, combined with his highest personal popularity of the 2012 campaign. But continued weakness in his perceived economic priorities is keeping the race a close one.

Among other shifts, after last week’s second debate, which included a spirited exchange on women in the workplace, the contest now has its largest gender gap of the season -- a 14-point lead for Barack Obama among women, vs. a 12-point advantage for Romney among men.

The result, as in previous ABC News/Washington Post polls since late summer, is essentially a dead heat between the candidates overall. In the first of what will be daily ABC/Post tracking polls for the rest of the contest, 49 percent of likely voters back Obama, 48 percent Romney.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

With Monday night’s debate focused on foreign policy, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds Romney virtually tied with Obama in trust to handle international affairs (49-46 percent, Obama-Romney) and terrorism (47-46 percent), as well as to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed services (48-45 percent). That reflects a shift in Romney’s favor; Obama led on terrorism by 11 points as recently as Sept. 29, and on international affairs by seven points earlier this month.

In another milestone for Romney, 50 percent of likely voters express a favorable opinion of him overall, while 47 percent see him unfavorably -- his highest popularity score of the season, and one of the rare times he’s been numerically above water in this measure. His personal popularity now roughly matches Obama’s 52-46 percent favorable-unfavorable.

While more pick Obama as the winner of the second debate, these advances for Romney appear to reflect a carryover effect of his first debate performance. Overall, 37 percent of likely voters say their opinion of Romney has improved as a result of the two debates, double the 19 percent who think less of him. Obama gets just an even split, 15 percent to 18 percent, better-worse. (The rest say the debates haven’t changed their views of the candidates -- 65 percent in Obama’s case, 43 percent in Romney’s).

Still, Obama clawed back some ground in the second debate -- he’s seen as having won it by 48-29 percent, compared with Romney’s 71-17 percent in the first debate. And the number of likely voters with a better opinion of Obama as a result of the two debates has advanced from eight percent after the first debate to, as noted, 15 percent after the second. Those results underscore what’s at stake in the candidate’s last face-off Monday night.

CHALLENGES – While Romney shows momentum on some underlying attributes, he also still faces some fundamental challenges. Obama is benefitting from slightly improving economic attitudes; as many likely voters now say the economy is improving as say it’s worsening, 37 percent vs. 36 percent, numerically positive for the first time since spring in comparable data.

Most strikingly, a majority continues to think Romney, if elected, would favor the wealthy rather than the middle class, by 54-33 percent. Obama, by contrast, consistently has been seen by an overwhelming majority, now 66-15 percent, as having done more to favor the middle class than the wealthy.

Overcoming this perception may be Romney’s single biggest challenge ahead; one complication in his addressing it is Obama’s advantage in two other areas: Better understanding the economic problems of average Americans, on which the president leads Romney by seven points; and honesty and trustworthiness, on which Obama’s up by nine.

ISSUES and APPROVAL – Obama has an unusual advantage on another issue, again likely reflecting skepticism about Romney’s economic priorities: In trust to handle taxes, typically a better issue for Republican candidates, Obama leads by 11 percentage points, 53-42 percent -- the president’s biggest lead on taxes all season.

Obama also is competitive with Romney in trust to handle the deficit, (49-45 percent, Romney-Obama); that’s tightened from a wide Romney advantage in the spring and summer, perhaps reflecting some impact from Obama’s continued criticisms of Romney’s budget numbers. Obama, moreover, leads by 12 points on handling Medicare and by 13 points in trust to handle women’s issues. Women prefer Obama on women’s issues by a wide 18 points; men, by seven.

On trust to handle the economy -- the election’s top issue and Obama’s greatest vulnerability -- it’s another virtual dead heat, 48-46 percent, Romney-Obama.

Still, Obama’s job approval rating overall is 50 percent among likely voters, a point short of a majority. In historical terms, that can be adequate to win re-election (George W. Bush and, possibly, Harry S. Truman), but certainly not comfortably so.

While there have been shifts under the surface, it’s notable how little overall preferences have changed in this contest: Obama’s support among likely voters has been between 47 and 49 percent steadily since just before the conventions; Romney’s, 46 to 49 percent. And likely voter definitions with different turnout estimates produce essentially identical horse race results.

STATES and GROUPS – As well as close overall, the contest stands at 51-47 percent, Romney-Obama, in the nine battleground states designated by the ABC News Political Unit -- well within the margin of sampling error, and not significantly different from the mid-month 51-46 percent, Obama-Romney, in these same states. But regardless of sampling error, the bigger number now is Romney’s, another indication of the competitiveness he’s showing.

Obama has a little pushback on another metric: The share of his supporters who describe themselves as “very enthusiastic” has advanced to 64 percent, his highest of the season, and matching his level at this time in 2008 (but below his peak that year). Romney’s strong enthusiasm, at 58 percent, is numerically off its peak at mid-month, after the first debate.

Among groups, again perhaps reflecting the second debate, this poll finds a shift in Obama’s direction among college-educated white women. They go for Obama over Romney by 55-42 percent now, vs. a preference for Romney by almost an identical margin, 56-42 percent, in mid-October. Other slight shifts mitigate the overall impact -- Romney’s gained among white men, especially among those who lack a college degree -- but it explains the wider gender gap.

Romney leads by 15 points among whites overall, while Obama comes back with a vast 78-19 percent advantage among non-whites. There’s a hardening at the ideological poles, with Obama and Romney at their highest support of the campaign among liberals and “very” conservatives, respectively (88 percent of liberals for Obama, 89 percent of very conservatives for Romney). The fight’s among moderates, now +16 points for Obama, and somewhat conservatives, +37 for Romney.

There’s also extreme polarization among Democrats and Republicans, with a scant three-point difference between the candidates among independents, 49 percent for Romney, 46 percent for Obama. A slight five-point turnout advantage for Democrats makes the race essentially tied -- and, if nothing breaks open, makes turnout the key to the 2012 race. Turnout’s especially important since a third of likely voters say they plan to vote early -- including five percent who already have.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Foreign Policy Takes Center Stage in Final Presidential Debate

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There are 15 days and one presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney left before the general election.

While both candidates acknowledge the outcome of the election depends on no more than two dozen swing states, the debate Monday night -- the third of the campaign season -- provides the final opportunity for the candidates to make their case to a national TV audience.  Both Obama and Romney spent the weekend behind closed doors preparing.

Until recently, the election has mostly been about Americans' concerns about domestic matters, namely, the economy and creating jobs.

However, last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya has suddenly pushed foreign policy closer to voters' economic worries, with Romney accusing Obama of not being up front about what happened in Benghazi and weakening America's stature abroad.

That topic is expected to take center stage at Monday night's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., while the president is expected to hammer away at Romney's inexperience on foreign affairs matters that was accentuated by his gaffe-filled trip to Europe and Israel last summer.

With each candidate "winning" a debate apiece, it's conceivable that this third one could be the tie-breaker among the so-called undecided voters who will determine the election's outcome.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday had the race tied at 47 percent support for each candidate.  Obama has an edge among women, according to the poll.  Romney has the edge among men.

Besides Libya, Romney will likely charge Obama with having done a poor job with the troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and allowing Iran to continue processing uranium for the purpose of creating a nuclear arsenal that threatens Israel, America's strongest ally in the region.

Meanwhile, the president will likely accuse Romney of advocating policies that could put American soldiers in the middle of another ground war since many of his international advisors are the same neo-conservatives who convinced George W. Bush to invade Iraq, which took the Pentagon's eye off Afghanistan for years.

Furthermore, Obama will argue that his opponent wants to give the Pentagon $1 trillion to $2 trillion more than it's asking for, thus further exploding the deficit.

Each of the candidates has charged the other one with being "too soft" on China, which has devalued its currency to sell its items cheaper abroad and block U.S. imports.  Romney says Obama is wrong to hesitate on labeling Beijing a "currency manipulator," while the president contends that if Romney angers China, he could start a trade war that will further blunt U.S. economic growth.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Romney, Ryan Double-Team Obama on Foreign Policy

JUSTIN SULLIVAN/JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES(SWANTON, Ohio) -- After three days of intensive debate prep, a Paul Ryan focused on foreign policy emerged Monday, in lockstep with Mitt Romney on what the GOP challengers for the presidency claim are the Obama administration’s many purported failings overseas.

Just minutes after his running mate finished his own foreign policy address, Ryan took the stage at an airplane hangar in Ohio and echoed many of the same points Mitt Romney made in his own speech in Virginia.

“If you go home after this and your turn on your TV, you will likely see the failures of the Obama foreign policy unfolding before your eyes,” Ryan said after Romney’s speech was shown live before the event began. “You see, if you look around the world, what we are witnessing is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

Ryan continued, noting the Obama administration wasn’t clear about calling the attack on the American consulate in Libya a terrorist attack.

“Four Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack in Benghazi,” Ryan said. “The point is, in a Romney administration, when we know that we are clearly attacked by terrorists, we won’t be afraid to say what it is. If terrorists attack us, we will say we had a terrorist attack and more importantly, we will do what is necessary to prevent that from happening by having a strong military, by making sure that our adversaries do not test us, do not think that we are a weak and in retreat. This was not simply an isolated incident but indicative of a broader failure.”

As Romney did in his address to the Virginia Military Institute, Ryan spoke at length about Iran saying during this administration the nation has gotten “closer to a nuclear weapon” and the “Middle East is in turmoil.”

“Nearly two dozen nations that we witness on our televisions were burning our flags in protest and riots,” Ryan said. “You see, if we project weakness abroad, our adversaries are that much more willing to test us, to question our resolve. And our allies are more hesitant to trust us. We can’t afford to put more daylight between ourselves and our allies, like Israel.”

On the issue of Israel, the language Ryan and Romney used in their separate speeches was almost identical.

“I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security -- the world must never see any daylight between our two nations,” Romney said.

Both Romney and Ryan accused the president of not actively swiftly or effectively enough on the crisis in Syria with Romney saying the president was “sitting on the sidelines” and Ryan sending a similar message.

“We can’t afford to equivocate when dissidents are taking to the streets arguing and fighting for peace against the tyrannical dictators that are crushing them,” Ryan said. “We can’t afford to call Bashar al-Assad a reformer and say he has to go and then watch 20 months go by while he slaughters tens of thousands of his people. The reason we can’t afford this is because if we want peace here at home in America, we need to have a strong military.”

This was Ryan’s first formal solo event since he went into three days of intensive debate prep. He faces off against Joe Biden Thursday in their only vice presidential debate, moderated by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.

The GOP vice presidential nominee praised Romney’s address calling it “what leadership looks like.” He added that his ticket will “make sure that we have a missile defense system to protect ourselves and our allies” when “we see nations like Iran racing toward nuclear capability.”

In front of several hundred voters in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, the House Budget Committee chairman said the "president is not offering the kind of spirited and principled leadership we need to create jobs here at home or to keep us safe.”

He also hit the president on $500 million in defense cuts that are looming, known as sequestration, and accused Obama of distorting his record.

Although Ryan blames the president consistently on the campaign trail for the cuts, the cuts were a result in the debt limit being increased under an agreement that called on a bipartisan “super-committee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.  After the super-committee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration.

The Obama campaign took issue with the president being blamed for sequestration saying it’s instead because Republicans “refuse to ask for a single dime from millionaires and billionaires.”

“Mitt Romney and Congressman Ryan are standing in the way of an agreement to prevent automatic defense cuts,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said. “Romney has suggested privatizing veterans’ health care and their budget includes unspecified cuts to domestic spending that could mean deep cuts to Veteran’s Affairs. No matter their rhetoric four weeks before an election, those are the unfortunate facts about their policies.”

Despite Ryan’s focus on foreign policy, he still relied on a joke about his experience that’s been part of his stump since the beginning of his candidacy:

“Overseas, and where I’m from we call that Lake Superior,”  the Wisconsin congressman said to laughter from the audience.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Romney Says It’s ‘Time to Change Course’ in Mideast

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(LEXINGTON, Va.) -- Mitt Romney Monday painted a dismal picture of President Obama’s foreign policy during his years in the White House as the Republican candidate toughened his criticism of the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack in Libya.

Romney said that as president he would ensure the Syrian rebels got the weapons they need and that he would take a firmer hand with Egypt and in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“It is time to change course in the Middle East,” said Romney.

[READ the transcript of Romney's speech on foreign policy.]

The Republican presidential candidate took a hard line on the administration’s actions around the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, last month. The Romney campaign is hoping to capitalize on what they believe to be a mishandling by the administration to accurately pinpoint the reason for the attacks or to have prevented them in the first place.

“As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened, how the threats we face have grown worse, and what this calls on America to do,” Romney said Monday to a crowd filled with cadets from the Virginia Military Institute. “Unfortunately, this president’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership.  And nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East.”

Romney said the attacks on the Benghazi consulate and other embassies in recent weeks “should not be seen as random acts. They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East, a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century. And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself.”

The Obama administration initially said the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim film, but eventually conceded it was a terror attack.

Romney said the attack was carried out by “terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.”

On the evening the attack was first reported, Romney drew criticism for accusing the Obama administration of “sympathizing” with the attackers before all the details of the attacks were known. It was not yet known at the time that Stevens had been killed. Romney, as well as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, began receiving customary intelligence briefings organized by the Obama administration shortly thereafter, and Romney has so far been briefed twice.

Ahead of Monday’s speech, Romney advisers anticipated that it would be a chance for Romney to “fill in more details” with respect to his own plan, in Libya and elsewhere. The speech comes a week before the next presidential debate, which will focus partially on foreign affairs, and two weeks before the final debate, which will focus entirely on the subject.

Romney outlined some of his plans for other areas in the Middle East.

“It is time to change course in the Middle East,” said Romney. “That course should be organized around these bedrock principles:  America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them, no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them… and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States,” Romney said. “I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”

He said those who receive aid from the U.S., including Egypt, “must meet the responsibilities of every decent modern government.”

It is those conditions on U.S. aid, Romney said Monday, that he will use to “urge the new government to represent all Egyptians."

“And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid,” he said.

In Syria, Romney said, “I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets … It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.”

The Obama administration has balked at sending arms and has discouraged others from sending heavy weapons that could end up in the arms of Islamic militants.

Romney also renewed his call for U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan to be completed by the end of 2014, taking a swipe at President Obama in doing so.

“I will affirm that my duty is not to protect my political prospects, but to protect the security of the nation,” said Romney, who has long accused Obama’s withdrawal plans as being politically motivated.

Romney cast doubt on the ability to establish a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis in a surreptitiously filmed video shot at a fundraiser earlier this year, in which he called such a scenario “unthinkable,” but Monday Romney said he will “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

“In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew,” Romney said Monday.

In a statement on the candidate’s speech, Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said all Romney has offered on foreign policy is “bluster and platitudes.”

“If Mitt Romney wants to have a debate about foreign policy, we have a message for him: bring it on,” Smith said in a statement, going on to accuse him of “erratically” shifting positions on “every major foreign policy.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Romney to Deliver Foreign Policy Speech

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LEXINGTON, Va.) -- Mitt Romney plans to deliver a foreign policy speech Monday in which he will try to reverse some of his perceived missteps -- most notably his highly criticized response to the terrorist attack in Libya -- as the Republican GOP candidate looks to bolster his foreign affair credentials in the weeks remaining before the election.

The Romney campaign will use the remarks to strengthen their criticism of the Obama administration’s response to last month’s terrorist attacks in Libya, hoping to capitalize on what they believe to be a mishandling by the administration to accurately pinpoint the reason for the attacks or to have prevented them in the first place.

“The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts,” Romney will say, according to excerpts released by the campaign.  “They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East -- a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century.  And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself."

“The attack on our consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney is expected to say.  “This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the Administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long."

“No, as the Administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West,” Romney will say, according to the prepared remarks.

It was nine days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, one that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the White House believed the attack to be an act of terrorism.  The White House had initially suggested that the attack broke out after an anti-Islam film went viral, sparking a round of global protests.

The evening the attack was reported, Romney drew criticism after he accused the Obama administration of “sympathizing” with the attackers before all the details of the attacks were known.  It was not yet confirmed at the time that Stevens had been killed.  

Romney, as well as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, began receiving customary intelligence briefings organized by the Obama administration shortly thereafter, and Romney has so far been briefed twice.

Romney advisers say that Monday will be a chance for Romney to “fill in more details” with respect to his own plan, in Libya and beyond.  The speech, to be delivered at the Virginia Military Institute, comes just a week before the next presidential debate, which will focus partially on foreign affairs, and two weeks before the final debate, which will focus entirely on the subject.

In addition to the attack on Libya, Romney is expected to address the situation in the Middle East on a whole, saying that it is time to “change course” in the region.

“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States,” Romney will say.  “I share this hope.  But hope is not a strategy.  We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.”

The excerpts indicate that Romney will also touch on furthering the sanctions placed on Iran to prevent the country from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will support sending more aid to Syria to support the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.  Romney will renew his call for U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan to be completed by the end of 2014.

And while Romney cast doubt on the ability to establish a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel in a surreptitiously filmed video shot at a fundraiser earlier this year, in which he called such a scenario “unthinkable,” Romney will say in Virginia Monday that he will “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Obama Camp Calls Romney 'Worthless, Erratic' on Foreign Policy

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- The Obama campaign on Monday sharply criticized Republican nominee Mitt Romney on foreign policy, telling reporters in Las Vegas that "he has been worthless, erratic and irresponsible" on those issues.

The rebuke came in response to an op-ed Romney penned in the Wall Street Journal and amid reports that Romney plans a major foreign policy speech for the days ahead.

“There’s no op-ed, or no speech which we’ve heard he may or may not at some point in the next few weeks that’s going to change the view of the American people that he has been worthless, erratic and irresponsible on foreign policy issues," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

"There was a lot of  chest pumping rhetoric in there but there wasn’t a lot of specifics in that op-ed…we don’t think that’s what the American people are looking for,” she said.
 
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that by contrast Obama has achieved noteworthy foreign policy accomplishments, including ending the Iraq War and refocusing the mission in Afghanistan.  

“This is a record that, I would think, is very strong and is in keeping with the promises he made in 2008," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep262012

Paul Ryan Says Obama’s Foreign Policy ‘Blowing Up in Our Faces’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(FORT COLLINS, Colo.) -- Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took the Romney-Ryan campaign to Ft. Collins, Colo., for a town hall meeting on Wednesday, where he said President Obama has made “a string of broken promises” on the economy and foreign policy.

Asked whether Mitt Romney will be more aggressive during the presidential debates with Obama than John McCain was four years ago, Ryan said there is a difference between 2008 and 2012: Obama’s record.

“This is a president, a man who campaigned with all this glorious rhetoric, all this hope and change, promising all these grand things, and he’s failed to deliver on all these big promises,” said Ryan.

“President Obama cannot run on his record.  We will point that out, but you know what he’s gonna try to do?  He’s trying to divide this country, put people against each other, distract this country to try and win an election by default, and we’re not gonna let him get away with that,” he said.  “Plus, we owe you alternatives.  We are not simply asking you to fire Barack Obama because he’s not worth rehiring.  We are asking you to fire Barack Obama because we are worth hiring because we have better ideas, because we have solutions that fix the problems in our country, and we’re not gonna duck these tough issues.”

Ryan highlighted Obama’s remark that Washington could not be changed from the inside.

“The economy is barely growing, and President Obama has no idea how to get it growing again.  He has no idea,” Ryan said.  “If this president can’t change Washington, I say it’s time to change presidents and elect Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”

When asked why the federal government provides foreign aid to “countries that hate us,” Ryan said, “This is one area where we have to cut spending.”

He then turned to international issues, telling his audience the president’s foreign policy “is blowing up in our faces.”

“Look around the world,” Ryan said.  “It looks like Tehran in 1979, but in about a dozen capitals around the world.  They are burning our flags at our embassies.  They’re climbing our walls at our embassies.  They’re taking down our flags and putting up the flags of the Muslim Brotherhood.  They just killed four of our diplomats in Benghazi, and Iran is that much closer toward a nuclear weapon.”

Ryan said when the government “is not clear and forceful” on speaking out for American values it projects weakness.

“It sends one message and one message alone: Weakness.  We are projecting weakness abroad, and Mitt Romney will not do that,” he said.  “We believe in speaking out for our values, we believe in a strong national defense, and we believe in peace through strength, because that keeps us more peaceful.  And that means watching how we spend that money, too.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Paul Ryan Ramps Up His Tone in Wake of Obama Criticism

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(OWENSVILLE, Ohio) -- Paul Ryan stepped up his criticism of the Obama administration at a rally in Owensville, Ohio, using a more aggressive tone than earlier in the day, saying the “administration sent mixed signals to those who attacked our embassy in Egypt and mixed signals to the world.”

Ryan began, as he did at a town hall in his home state of Wisconsin Wednesday morning, with a moment of silence for the four Americans killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday.

“This is a time for healing,” Ryan said.  "But it’s also a time for resolve.  In the face of such a tragedy, we need to be reminded that the world needs American leadership. … The administration sent mixed signals to those who attacked our embassy in Egypt and mixed signals to the world.  I want to be clear: It is never too early for the United States to condemn attacks on Americans, on our properties and to defend our values. That’s what leadership is all about.”

The tone more closely reflected Mitt Romney’s approach to the tragedy than it did Ryan’s earlier statements. Romney called the early response by the Obama administration “disgraceful.”

Romney was reacting to messages sent out by the U.S. diplomats in Cairo, who released a statement Tuesday before their mission was attacked criticizing an American-made film that depicts Muhammad, Islam’s founder, in a negative way. The film later sparked the protest in Cairo.

Romney has been criticized by both the president and other Republicans for issuing a statement before all the details of the attack were known Tuesday.

“It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts,” Obama told CBS’ 60 Minutes, “and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”

In Owensville, Ohio, in front of a few thousand people in a battleground state, Ryan claimed the Obama administration’s policies “project weakness abroad.” He blamed the administration for “undercutting allies like Israel, outreach to enemies like Iran, national security leaks and devastating defense cuts.”

Ryan added, "A weak America breeds insecurity and chaos around the world.  The best guarantee of peace is American strength.  And peace through strength will be the Romney-Ryan foreign policy of this country.”

Earlier, outside of Green Bay, Wis., Ryan took a different tone. Instead of mentioning the president by name, he said, “It is very important that a president speak with a singular voice representing our principles and our values. We don’t want people around the world wondering what our values are.”

Ryan’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said the decision to ramp up Ryan’s approach came after a day of “attacks from the president.” Though it was important to recognize the deaths, he also felt it was necessary to respond.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Henry Kissinger ‘Can Understand’ Mitt Romney’s ‘Severe’ Reaction to Mideast Violence

Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former U.S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told ABC News on Wednesday that he “can understand” why Mitt Romney’s initial reaction to the violence in the Middle East was “quite severe.”

“I think that an attack on an American embassy is always a grave matter,” Kissinger said in a telephone interview. “When the attacks take place as a result of an event that’s totally out of the control of the United States government, then it is an outrage against our basic values and we cannot -- as a government -- apologize for what these people construe as a provocation if our government was in no way involved.”

Kissinger, who has endorsed Romney and headlined a fundraiser for him this summer in Connecticut, added: “I can understand that the first reaction of Governor Romney was quite severe.”

At a news conference in Florida on Wednesday, Romney said it was "disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Romney was referring to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo criticizing an anti-Muslim movie that was released before the attacks on America’s diplomatic missions in Cairo or Benghazi had taken place.

“I don’t think we ever hesitate when we see something in violation of our principles,” Romney said.

Kissinger, who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford, said that the Obama administration must now “convey to the governments involved that this is a matter that we take extremely seriously.”

The former top diplomat’s advice: “Speaking entirely for myself, it would be appropriate to recall our ambassadors for consultation so that they see we are looking at it carefully.”

At a fundraiser earlier Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla. Romney invoked Kissinger: “I saw Dr. Kissinger some months ago,” Romney said. “I said, ‘Dr Kissinger, how is America perceived today in the world? He said one word, ‘Weak.’ Weak. The world needs American strength.”

Asked whether Romney would be wise to highlight his differences with President Obama on foreign policy between now and Election Day, Kissinger told ABC News: “I don’t think that Governor Romney should look for opportunities to draw distinction, but where he disagrees and where it’s questions and not just tactics,” it would be appropriate, he said.

Earlier this month, Kissinger co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Times with former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, James A. Baker and George P. Shultz in which they endorsed the former Massachusetts governor: “He has the experience, strategy and temperament to lead a robust economic recovery and rein in the mounting federal debt that threatens our future. And he fully understands that our prosperity at home is inextricably linked to our influence abroad.”

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