Ricochet Think Tank: Debate Prep

In the third debate (foreign policy) what does Romney need to say about: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Israel, Russia, China, Europe, world trade, or other topics (the apology tour, offending allies, supplicating enemies, the bust of Churchill, etc.)?

  1. john marzan

    On foreign policy, just channel condi rice.

  2. Schrodinger

    He needs to focus on the big picture, with few details. He should lay out his vision of how he will revive respect for America from our allies and fear from our enemies. He should emphasize solidarity with Israel, Europe, Korea and Japan. He should promise to end foreign aid to regimes with terrorist organizations in the government, like Egypt. He should announce that he will modify rules of combat to protect our troops. He should promise to reverse the degradation of our military.

    One zinger would be to promise a full and open investigation into both the Benghazi incident and the Fast & Furious scandal. Also, he could state that the war on terror is not over.

  3. HoosierDaddy
    Keith Rice: I think he should take a moment to thank the men who actually risked their lives and killed bin-Laden and then thank the President for letting them do their job. · 5 hours ago

    a snark-arific idea! Too bad Romney is so committed to a McCain-like sarcasm-free campaign.

  4. She

    He needs to speak fluidly and in complete sentences, as he does when talking about the economy and jobs, not flither around sounding breathless and nervously jumping from point to point.

    He needs to look squarely into the camera and say that the apology tours are over.

    He needs to say that Obama is running as if someone else has been President for the last four years, and that it’s time again for America to have a President who knows what country he’s the President of.

    I think 90% of it is presentation.  On jobs and the economy, he looks assured and Presidential.  On foreign affairs, he starts to jabber and flail, even when he’s talking sense.  He needs to slow down, pace himself, and watch out for the ‘moderator.’

  5. Crow

    Romney has a difficult balancing act to pull of here. Aaron et al have identified some of the background challenges when speaking to the voters today on foreign affairs: Americans take pride in a strong America and want the respect of our Allies and to be feared by our enemies–but the voters are also tired of hearing about wars in places they can’t pronounce (short-sightedness in foreign affairs being a perpetual defect of democracies. See Athens) and the challenges at home seem so big that the voters simultaneously (and not entirely coherently) want an American that can project power the moment it needs to, but doesn’t have to now and can focus on domestic affairs. 

    Romney has to reassure them whle also renewing America’s leadership, and do it all in a manner that makes him believable as Commander in Chief. He must appear firm, committed, and decisive without appearing aggressive, belligerent, and rash. He’s got to be critical of and draw distinctions (sometimes only symbolically) between him and Obama without appearing to be grandstanding, self important, or opportunistic.

    He must convey he knows who the players are to voters who don’t know themselves.

  6. john marzan

    Condi Rice’s RNC speech on foreign policy strikes the right balance.

    Crow’s Nest: Romney has a difficult balancing act to pull of here. Aaron et al have identified some of the background challenges when speaking to the voters today on foreign affairs: Americans take pride in a strong America and want the respect of our Allies and to be feared by our enemies–but the voters are also tired of hearing about wars in places they can’t pronounce (short-sightedness in foreign affairs being a perpetual defect of democracies. See Athens) and the challenges at home seem so big that the voters simultaneously (and not entirely coherently) want an American that can project power the moment it needs to, but doesn’t have to now and can focus on domestic affairs. 

    Romney has to reassure them whle also renewing America’s leadership, and do it all in a manner that makes him believable as Commander in Chief. He must appear firm, committed, and decisive without appearing aggressive, belligerent, and rash. He’s got to be critical of and draw distinctions (sometimes only symbolically) between him and Obama without appearing to be grandstanding, self important, or opportunistic.

  7. Aaron Miller
    Kevin Walker: As James Taranto noted yesterday, aside from the dissembling and incompetence about Benghazi, there is the matter of the president announcing on Sep. 12, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” In the third debate, Romney should take Obama to task for this and voice his strong support for the First Amendment. He should say, “It is not the president’s role to ‘reject’ the exercise of free speech.  ….

    I wouldn’t touch this. Not denigrating the religions of others can be a purely moral stance with no bearing on the legal right to free speech.

    But that quote does highlight his focus on the YouTube video.

  8. Patrick in Albuquerque

    I want him to talk about his energy independence policy being a solution to some of our national security problems.

  9. Hang On

    Emphasize Canada. Nobody talks about Canada, and they should. Canada is our closest neighbor and ally.

    Emphasize Latin America. Economic growth in Latin America is essential to their well being and ours. Chavez has wrecked Venezuela’s economy and squandered the oil revenues. There are still vibrant economies that are increasingly dependent on China.

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and the rest of these unstable countries should mean very little to us. We should insure that they do. All the rhetoric that runs along the lines of Iran is a terrorist state and if they get the bomb, the world comes to an end is ridiculous. The Soviet Union was a terrorist state with nukes. Pakistan is a terrorist state with nukes. (Don’t believe it? Ask Indians.) Our Iranian policy and rhetoric is simply ridiculous. Iranian society is one of the most fractious in the world. Use that to our advantage. Don’t go around talking about military strikes — something that is certain to unite all Iranians against us. Divide to achieve our ends. What have we achieved in Iraq or Afghanistan using chest-thumping military means? And quit trotting out the failed policy makers from the Bush administration.

  10. Essgee

    Agree with Schrodinger’s Cat.  Additionally, I would emphasize the importance of recognizing the values that Americans share…values that make Americans Americans, and that we don’t have to appologize for being American.

    That we take seriously the notion that we are the leader of the free world because we believe in what we are, what we do.

  11. Bobby Sconyers

    He should promise the President that he will apologize to Mexico for the Fast And Furious debacle

    He should ask if the person who shot Malala was a radical Muslim or not

    He should vow to place as many people and as much firepower as needed to protect our embassies and personnel

    But he should begin by saying that he will try to make the last four years are totally inconsequential

  12. Keith Rice

    I think he should take a moment to thank the men who actually risked their lives and killed bin-Laden and then thank the President for letting them do their job.

  13. KC Mulville

    In the VP debate, Biden described the war in Afghanistan: 

    We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now, all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security.

    It’s their responsibility, not America’s.

    They never understood what the wars were about. They considered 9/11 to be a crime, and not a war. In Afghanistan, they thought we were trying to round up specific criminals for a specific crime. Oh, and to bring security to Afghanistan, as if we were doing them a favor while we were in the neighborhood.

    No. We went into Afghanistan was to prevent it from being an open training ground for al-Qaeda. 

    The Obama Administration, I’d argue, has misinterpreted the last couple years. al-Qaeda has been relatively quiet. The SEALs killed OBL in Pakistan, and we’ve been killing a lot of people with drones. Obama thought we’d removed the threat.

    No. Obama told them when he was leaving. They’ve been quiet because they were waiting for us to leave.  

    They’re as dangerous as ever.

  14. Richard Fulmer
    Bobby Sconyers: He should promise the President that he will apologize to Mexico for the Fast And Furious debacle

    Has Obama not apologized to Mexico for the deaths of 200 Mexican citizens?  Amazing.  He’s apologized to everyone else for America’s past sins. 

  15. Raxxalan

    He needs to be forced to own the Obama doctrine which appears to be, “Be nice to your enemies and nasty to your allies.”   He needs to be held to account for squandering opportunities in Iraq, Syria, and Latin America.  He also needs to be pressed on what his grand strategy is for US foreign policy.  Declinism is not popular and that is all it can be if he has one at all.  I personally would love to see him held accountable for the deterioration of Afghanistan and Iraq; however, I suspect that is too much of a double edged sword for Romney to want to engage on that front.

  16. Deborah Shey

    1. Fast and Furious slam Obama and Holder for this–both deny responsibility

    2. Libya slam Obama and Clinton for this–both claim responsibility

    3. Syria slam Obama and Clinton for this

    4. Afghanistan slam Obama for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda resurgence

    5. Israel emphasize commitment to them

    6. Iran Enemy #1

    That’s plenty to work into the “conversation”.

    Finally, I wish that Romney could name a Foreign Policy Team made up of  undisputed brains and experience whom he would have in his White House and Cabinet.

  17. john marzan

    The only thing right Obama did on foreign policy was Bin Laden. Everything else was a failure or a disaster.

    1) Applaud obama his “gutsy call” to kill binladen, while criticizing Obama’s decision to surge in afghanistan while simultaneusly declaring a fixed exit date for everyone to hear, including the enemies. How is that working out over there?

    2) How can the U.S. protect itself when Obama wants to gut the military to World War I levels. How exactly will than affect Afghanistan? Republicans didnt want this. Obama does. No wonder he’s unpopular w/ military people. No wonder Obama doesnt want to count their votes

    3) Obama prefers a diminished USA. If USA will not take the lead, somebody else will. Do you prefer China, or Russia? Is that a good thing? Read Condi Rice’s RNC speech.

    4) When Iran’s people rose up to try to topple the Ahmadinejad, Obama refused to support it. When longtime U.S. ally Egypt was in the same boat, Obama threw Mubarak under the bus and helped the Muslim Brotherhood into power.

    6) Mexico/Rapido y Furioso. Why wasnt Holder fired over this? Why invoke executive privilege?

    7) Israel.

  18. john marzan

    Funny, Benghazi didnt even come up on my list. Not that i’m against bringing it up.

  19. Richard

    Maybe Romney should ask what he would have more flexibility to do in regards to Russia after the election. 

  20. Aaron Miller

    As a general strategy, Romney should use his full alotted time before ending each turn with a question or challenge to force the President to start his turn on defense. Disrupt the President’s strategy, whatever it is, by making him talk about what you want to talk about.

    As for specifics, I doubt many swing voters are concerned about China and I doubt they would support another war in the Middle East (Iran) for any reason. So focus instead on the Obama administration’s shameful two-week response to Benghazi and on the damage he has done to our alliances.

    And, as usual, bring it back to moral terms. Americans honor our agreements. We stand by our allies. We believe the strong are obligated to protect the weak (but the next President’s focus should be here at home). People who pay little attention or thought to politics can latch onto such principles.

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