TEAM OBAMA CONDUCTED a foreign policy conference call earlier today with Robert Gibbs, Senior Advisor, Obama for America; Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. On the call, it was clear the Obama campaign was challenging Mitt Romney to give the purpose of the foreign policy trip he’s about to take.
Buzzfeed provided the perfect headline: Obama Campaign To Romney: Prove Foreign Trip Isn’t “One Long Photo-Op”.
Robert Gibbs hit Mitt Romney on “platitudes” and “secrecy,” also saying that he owes it to the American people to tell them where he stands on these important issues,” including Afghanistan. They cited Obama’s trip as a candidate, where he laid out what he’d do as president.
In the other corner you have Maggie Haberman reporting that Mitt Romney met with Australian foreign minister Bob Carr, who, according to Mr. Romney, boldly judged what he thought America’s position was in the world today.
“I met today with the foreign minister of Australia. He said something, and I said ‘Can I quote you?’ and he said yes. He said, ‘America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline,’” Romney told donors of the meeting, which wasn’t on his schedule.
At another point, he added, “And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting he said that, he led the talk of America being in decline. See that’s not talk we hear about here as much as they’re hearing there. And if they’re thinking about investing in America, entrepreuneurs putting their future in America, if they think America’s in decline they’re not gonna do it.”
Unfortunately, not long after Mitt Romney decided to use Carr’s words and wrap them around Pres. Obama, the Aussie disputed the Republican nominee’s interpretation of events, according to The Hill, with the National Times reporting Carr’s spokesperson as saying, “That interpretation is not correct.”
Mr. Romney better hope his two days in Israel goes better than this, because it made him look like an amateur. This type of back and forth after what was supposed to be a “private meeting” is unusual, because most people at the presidential level, even candidates, aren’t so clumsy as to put an American ally in the spotlight criticizing the U.S. so nakedly. Perhaps Carr didn’t say it or maybe he did and is just walking it back, but the clumsiness of this situation reveals Romney as an amateur for stirring it up in the first place. Sometimes a politician needs to know when to keep his ego in check and his mouth shut.
And ego is what Mitt Romney’s coming foreign trip is all about, because they know they’re vulnerable on national security, so they’re hoping a photo op here and there, with Mr. Romney standing next to foreign heads of state, will up his credibility on the subject.
Michele Flournoy challenged Romney off the top about his Afghanistan policy. Citing NATO countries all agree with the 2014 draw-down, Flournoy asked if Romney was going to “double down” on his pronouncements that Obama’s planning is “misguided,” when the decision is backed by over 50 nations.
That’s what happens when you parrot John Bolton on foreign policy.
Colin Kahl made certain everyone knew Pres. Obama’s strengths where Israel was concerned, including “standing up for Israel at the United Nations or not allowing the Palestinians to short circuit the peace process at the UN.” Kahl called Romney on saying he’d “do the opposite” as Obama on Middle East Israeli policy, which has been praised by Netanyahu and Peres, as well as others. Kahl also repeatedly invoked the Iron Dome System and missile defense, prompting one person on the call to tweet “every time C.Kahl says “Iron Dome,” take a shot.”
One thing not widely reported was a question that came from the National Journal. The reporter raised the question about the number of fundraisers Mitt Romney will be doing on his trip, as opposed to when Barack Obama traveled abroad as a candidate in 2008, that didn’t include fundraisers.
Now we get to see how the press covers the Where in the world is Mitt Romney? photo tour and exactly what the next possible commander in chief actually says that reveals what he’d do if he had charge of the largest military industrial complex on planet earth.