On Tuesday, Mitt Romney will give a speech shifting his attention from the economy to foreign policy — and then embark on a six-day overseas trip aimed at convincing voters that he can handle himself on the world stage. In 2008, then-senator Barack Obama made a similar tour abroad, beefing up his foreign policy credentials with well-received speeches before huge crowds and promises that he would mend frayed alliances. Romney's campaign says the GOP presidential candidate will visit three strong U.S. allies — the United Kingdom, Israel, and Poland — to "learn and listen." Can Romney repeat Obama's 2008 success, or will taking the commander-in-chief test just highlight Mitt's weaknesses?
This will be huge for Romney: Team Obama is going out of its way to deride this trip as a dog-and-pony show, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Obama must be worried that "the well-traveled Mitt Romney will make a nice impression on his overseas tour" — and with good reason. Romney's attention to Israel, which Obama didn't bother to visit in his first term, will impress Jewish and other pro-Israel voters, and the whole trip will spotlight how Obama failed to live up to his 2008 promises.
"Obama team nervous about Romney overseas trip"
Romney's trip is riskier than Obama's was: There are potential benefits for Romney, says Juan Williams at The Hill, but he's running a bigger risk than Obama did on his "rock star" tour of "liberal European capitals." Romney's foreign policy team is filled with former Bush administration officials, so the trip "might remind voters of foreign policy decisions" made by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And, remember, Obama "killed Osama bin Laden" and ended the Iraq war — Romney can't hope to overshadow that by attending the London Olympics.
"Struggling for a foreign policy boost, Romney looks overseas"
If anything, this will hurt Romney: Romney's real problem isn't his scant experience or his vague, sometimes "disturbingly hawkish" foreign policies, says Trudy Rubin in The Philadelphia Inquirer. It's his Rip Van Winkle world view, which makes him sound like he woke up after decades of sleep and still thinks we're fighting the cold war. He has called Russia "our number-one geopolitical foe," prompting Colin Powell to say, "C'mon, Mitt, think." Romney will never burnish his foreign policy bona fides until he can offer sound alternatives on 21st century challenges, from China to Iran.
"Mitt Romney still fighting cold war"
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