Obama, Romney clash over America’s standing in world, role in Middle Eastby Andrew Abramson | October 22nd, 2012
BOCA RATON — President Obama went after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney early in Monday’s presidential debate at Lynn University, questioning the GOP nominee’s knowledge of foreign affairs.
Obama said that Romney earlier this year called Russia, and not al Qaeda, the biggest geopolitical group facing America.
“The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Obama said. “When it comes to foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s — like the social policy of the 1950s, and the economic policies of the 1920s.”
Romney shot back that he said Russia was the biggest geopolitical foe but Iran was the greatest national threat.
“I have clear eyes on this,” Romney said. “I’m not going to wear rose colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin. After the election he’ll get more backbone.”
Obama accused Romney of having few differences from the current administration on foreign policy.
“He doesn’t have different ideas because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing (in Syria),” Obama said.
Romney said the Obama administration hasn’t been hard enough on Syria.
“Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world,” Romney said. “It’s their rock.”
Romney said “nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago.” Obama shot back that “America is stronger now than it was when I took office” because the wars in Iraq ended, the war in Afghanistan has been scaled down and the U.S. has been able to focus on relationships with allies.
Romney called out Obama for what he described as the president’s “apology tour” when he took office, saying foreign leaders saw it as an act of weakness.
Obama called it “the biggest whopper of the campaign” that he held an apology tour. Obama said his administration put in the strongest, most crippling sanctions ever while Romney was invested in a Chinese company doing business with Iran.
On criticism from his plans to withdrawal troops from Afghanistan, Obama said “there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.”
On Pakistan, Romney warned “if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you have terrorists there.”