The Republican's attacks on Obama are more rhetorical than substantive. Is he trapped by his party's longstanding foreign-policy divisions?
It's considered bad form for a president's political opponents to bash him overseas, so Mitt Romney, who is about to embark on a weeklong trip to England, Israel and Poland, decided to get the criticism out of his system while still on U.S. soil Tuesday. In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Romney unloaded on President Obama, even going so far as to accuse him of deliberately weakening American defenses.
"If you don't want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president," Romney said. "But with these cuts to the military, you have that president today."
Romney's speech was full of such blustery rhetoric, accusing Obama of adopting too weak and apologetic a posture toward the rest of the world. Tone is important in diplomacy, and it's possible that simply by taking a tougher rhetorical stance a President Romney would make a major change in the way the U.S. relates to the rest of the world.
But Democrats question whether Romney has real, substantive differences with Obama's foreign policies. For example, Romney harshly criticizes Obama for his timetable for pulling troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, calling it election-oriented political posturing; yet Romney, too, would pull out of Afghanistan by 2014. Similarly, Romney and his advisers blast Obama for not being sufficiently loyal to Israel, but the No. 1 thing he would do differently, according to his campaign, is a symbolic gesture: making Israel the destination of his first presidential trip. (Here's the full white paper on Romney's foreign policy proposals.)