For months, the conventional wisdom has been that the 2012 presidential election campaign would be all about the economy, stupid. But with economic data showing signs of recovery, Republican candidates are starting to talk more about foreign policy in their stump speeches. That hasn't always worked out well. Sometimes, the GOP candidates have come across like neoconservative hawks, eager to confront Iran, with force if necessary, over its nuclear program. Other times they've sounded like isolationists, wary of another Libya-like intervention. Where exactly do GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and his nearest rival, Rick Santorum, stand on foreign policy?
The GOP candidates don't have a foreign policy: When Romney and Santorum speak about the crises raging abroad, says Deborah White at About.com, all they do is "glibly repeat boilerplate gobbledygook" about how much tougher they'd be than Obama against America's enemies. They "don't truly know what the hell they're talking about," and don't want to see their meager foreign policy records — as a governor and senator, respectively — compared to Obama's "record of tremendous accomplishment" overseas.
"Why Romney, Santorum ignore foreign policy, national security issues"
But they'll hammer Obama over Iran and Israel: Republicans used to own the counterterrorism issue, but that changed when Obama got Osama bin Laden, say Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman at Politico. Still, the incumbent is not immune to foreign policy attacks. Republicans will go after him on his "inability so far to stop Iranian nuclear advances." They'll also "target Obama's turbulent relationship with the Israeli government" and his refusal to block defense spending cuts.
"Republican foreign policy message: TBD"
Actually, their positions are crystal clear: Santorum is "quite the hawk on foreign policy," says the Peoria, Ill., Journal Star in an editorial. "He would not withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 10 years there, and sometimes seems almost eager for war with Iran. He has no problem with torture." Romney, on the other hand, would "end the war in Afghanistan" but "keep the military option on the table for Iran" if sanctions don't work. So if you're basing your vote on foreign policy, your options are clear.
"President, GOP: Romney"