By: Fern Sidman
Following Monday evening’s presidential debate, a bevy of media pundits weighed in and declared that GOP presidential contender Governor Mitt Romney scored a strategic victory over President Obama by “playing it conservatively” to Obama’s repeatedly aggressive posture. Going into the debate, pundits suggested that Romney’s main objective would be to prove to the American electorate that he was strong and savvy enough to establish himself as a viable leader in the foreign policy arena.
Former presidential adviser David Gergen told CNN, “I think Mitt Romney did something very important to his campaign. He passed the commander-in-chief test.”
As Romney displayed a degree of consensus with Obama on a variety of foreign policy issues media analysts concluded that by taking this approach, Romney reassured voters that he is not a “loose cannon” or a “war monger” and appeared to be as steady and committed to foreign policy as he is on domestic economic issues.
Subsequent to the debate, Democratic pollster and FOX News contributor, Doug Schoen, said that “Romney succeeded in demonstrating he is presidential and on an equal footing with President Obama in the foreign-policy arena.”
Romney advocated a decisive US leadership role in maintaining global order and called for a message of loyalty to those countries that share America’s values of freedom, justice and democracy. “We have to also stand by our allies,” he said. “I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate. I think also that pulling our missile defense program out of Poland in the way we did was also unfortunate in terms of, if you will, disrupting the relationship in some ways that existed between us.”
“And then of course,” he continued, “with regards to standing for our principles, when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred. For the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake. We have to stand for our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military and stand for a stronger economy.”
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that if Romney were to be elected president he would establish better “personal relationships’ with Israeli leaders than President Obama has during his nearly four years in office.
“I think the governor’s returned to that theme throughout the campaign,” said Hayden. “How much he did or did not say last night I do not think changed the center line of the view that he personally; and I need to underscore that word personally; viewed the relationship with Israel to be very important, and that he personally would tend to the health of the relationship.”
Hayden added that Romney’s personal commitment to Israel, “actually strengthens our hands in the relationship in terms of making sure we are doing things that are mutually beneficial, rather than running at cross purposes.”
Former GOP Presidential candidate and Tennessee Senator, Fred Thompson, said, “Romney effectively pointed out the underlying weakness of the president’s policies and the results that have come about from them. Obama was not always substantively able to defend them, and in many cases did not attempt to. His demeanor and attitude, condescension, his obvious anger at some of the valid points that were made – none of them will do him any good on Election Day.”
Also offering his perspectives on the debate were former New York Governor George Pataki, who said, “President Obama basically indicted himself with words as opposed to his actions. He talked about his close relationship with Israel. We have never seen greater distance in the last 50 years between the US and Israel.” He added that Israel’s supporters, himself included, “recognize that Romney supports a strong alliance with Israel, while Obama actually had policies in place to create distance between the two countries and that undermined security not only here and in Israel, but throughout the world.”