Presidential Foreign Policy Debate: Why Obama Will Seal Reelection Tonight


The first two debates were full of controversy and "tit-for-tat" squabbling among the leaders of the great American political duopoly. Americans tuned in and took to social networks to voice their anger and frustration after each debate. Ultimately, each candidate has been dubbed victor of one debate. Each of those debates delved slightly into foreign policy, but neither focused intensely on the topic. This third debate will do just that.

While it is true that many Americans are focused on the economy and jobs here at home, I believe many people are underestimating the interest in foreign policy among the American public. In fact, while most Americans tend to think of wars and the military when discussing foreign policy, our economy is very much tied to our policies and relationships abroad. Don't be mistaken, tonight's debate is the key to this election, and I think Barack Obama will lock it up tonight and here is why.

For real-time analysis and live coverage of the foreign policy debate, see here.

1. Obama actually has experience.

I know, Obama didn't have executive experience with foreign policy in 2008, but he was a U.S. Senator, and that counts heavier than Romney's turn as Massachusetts governor. We will no doubt hear about killing bin Laden, ending the Iraq war, and removing Gaddafi from power in Libya. The president will likely use all of these points as defense when Romney attacks from the angle of foreign policy failures. If Romney is going to win tonight, he must make Americans count the failures (like Benghazi) heavier than the successes.

2. Romney's foreign friendship tour this summer was a bust.

When he set out for his whistle-stop tour of the world, Romney surely had hoped for a better appraisal than what actually resulted. As he arrived in England, he was already behind the proverbial eight ball because of a staffer's comments that Romney would be a better British ally than Obama because of his Anglo-Saxon heritage. Then, he decided that it was okay to imply that the British were inept at hosting an Olympics. He was quickly met with tabloid headlines and a nationally viewed speech from London mayor, Boris Johnson in which he said, "There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preparations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready." Egg meet face. 

On his next stop, Mitt managed to rile up the Palestinians by saying that Israel's culture allowed it to prosper better than Palestine's. The Palestinians of course took those words and railed Romney as being uninformed about middle eastern politics. Later, in September, the Palestinian position appeared to be solidified as video surfaced that Romney had told a group that the Palestinians had no interest in establishing peace. 

3. Romney seems determined to make China our biggest enemy.

In the last debate, Romney stated that on day one he would label China as a currency manipulator. Whether or not you believe that China manipulates currency is irrelevant to this discussion. The fact is that promising to declare economic war against China is a potentially huge misstep in foreign policy. Obama will almost certainly seize on this early and often by pointing to the remarks of none other than rising GOP star and current senator, Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio made the rounds yesterday and told the country that while he believes China to be a currency manipulator, he thinks Romney is wrong for stating his day one promise. He believes that it is akin to declaring economic war and that the U.S. stands to lose as much or more than China does in such a strained trade partnership.

The question Americans will be looking to answer tonight is simply, "Can we trust Mitt Romney to be the voice of America?" I believe that the resounding answer will be no. Mitt has promised to increase an already exorbitant "defense" budget, which to many Americans translates to more war. By regularly putting himself into extreme corners with statements like the ones about China and Palestine, he has given Obama too many weapons tonight. Tonight, Barack Obama seals the deal, and the business man's greatest failure will be his inability to close this one out. 

For real-time analysis and live coverage of the foreign policy debate, see here.