Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pundits Proclaim: Romney Passes ‘Commander-in-Chief Test’

Pundits Proclaim: Romney Passes ‘Commander-in-Chief Test’

By David A. Patten
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have exchanged a tactical defeat for a strategic victory in Monday’s foreign policy debate, losing on points to the president by most accounts but scoring a solid performance that left major pundits declaring he had passed “the commander in chief test” in resounding fashion.

CNN’s flash poll taken immediately after the debate had President Barack Obama winning, 48 to 40 percent. But a host of pundits declared it a strategic win for Romney, who played it conservatively as Obama aggressively attacked his positions, repeatedly insisting to Romney “that’s not true,” and “you’ve been over the map.”

The major question for Romney going into the debate: Would he establish himself as a trustworthy alternative to Obama in the commander-in-chief’s role?

Alert: Obama Movie Exposes His Vision for America. Click here.

“I think Mitt Romney did something very important to his campaign tonight,” former presidential adviser David Gergen told CNN. “He passed the commander-in-chief test.
Newsmax contributor, foreign-policy expert, and Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller concurred.

“What would have killed him was a Gaffe-gate,” she said of Romney. “One mistake, one Gerald Ford moment of Poland not being in the Warsaw Pact. And he was not about to let that happen.”

Miller was struck by the degree of consensus between the two leaders on a wide range of foreign policy issues. She said that by taking that approach, Romney “reassured people who fear a return to a more aggressive path. People are sick of war, and I think he did that. He reassured people that he is as steady in foreign policy as he did in domestic policy. I think he passed that test.”

Similarly, Fox News commentator and Newsmax contributor Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster, told Newsmax shortly after the debate that Romney succeeded in demonstrating he is presidential “and on an equal footing with President Obama” in the foreign-policy arena.

Romney’s highlight came as he defended America’s role in maintaining global order. To do that, he said, the nation would have to remain strong, and continue to lead on the international stage.

“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.”

Alert: Obama Movie Exposes His Vision for America. Click here.

One of Obama’s strongest rebuttals came when Romney questioned his commitment to Israel.

“And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the -- the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the -- the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable,” the president said.

The president appeared irritated at one point after Romney charged that the U.S. Navy under Obama is smaller than “any time since 1917.”

Romney said the Navy is down to 285 ships, and could dip into “the low 200s,” adding, “That’s unacceptable to me.”

Obama shot back, “I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You -- you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916 [sic]. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets -- (laughter) -- because the nature of our military's changed.”

Then the president made a statement that some may perceive as condescending. “We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them,” Obama said. “We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

At one point in the debate, Romney addressed the more aggressive incumbent directly, stating: "Attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East and take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence."

Both candidates had their tactical moments, and at times appeared to largely agree on policies with the exception of a few specific, important details.

Both candidates agreed that war against Iran should be a last resort, for example, and that a united front is crucial in opposing the Islamic theocracy running that country. But Romney insists the Iranians should not be permitted to attain nuclear capability, while the Obama administration appears focused on preventing the Iranian regime from building an actual nuclear device, while possibly allowing it to have the capability to do so.

Overall, Romney avoided making any major blunders and repeatedly turned the discussion to the national-security impact of bolstering the U.S. economy.
Schoen tells Newsmax that Obama, who faces dwindling support in a number of recent polls, may be running out of time to reverse the dynamics that are driving the race.

“There is still room,” Schoen told Newsmax. “But increasingly the electorate is interested in what Gov. Romney has to say and increasingly the electorate feels they’ve heard enough from President Obama,” said Schoen.

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