OBAMA ON THE ATTACK; Romney Taken to Task over Foreign Policy in TV Exchange

Daily Mail (London), October 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

OBAMA ON THE ATTACK; Romney Taken to Task over Foreign Policy in TV Exchange


Byline: Tom Leonard in New York

BARACK Obama pummelled Mitt Romney with a stream of barbed remarks and personal taunts across a TV debating table as the pair fought over their competing visions of America's place in the world.

In their last face-to-face confrontation before the November 8 election, a sarcastic Mr Obama went on the attack in a determined bid to halt his Republican rival's growing popularity that has left them deadlocked in the polls.

Although the debate was less aggressive than their last encounter when they stalked each other across the floor, continually interrupting, the personal antipathy between the pair was only too obvious.

The President's attempts to belittle Mr Romney over foreign policy frequently descended into condescension - none more so than the moment when the challenger, who wants to increase military spending, complained that the US Navy was now smaller than it had been in 1916.

Pouncing on this apparent naivety, Mr Obama quipped: 'We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed.' His voice dripping in sarcasm, he proceeded to explain in a slowed-down tone that 'we have these things called aircraft carriers; where planes land on them' and 'these ships that go underwater; nuclear submarines'.

He added: 'And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we are counting ships.' Continuing the comedy theme, he responded to Mr Romney's claim that Russia was America's greatest 'geopolitical' foe by saying: 'The 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their policy back - because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.' Mr Romney has been portrayed by opponents as a trigger-happy warmonger but instead he played the dove in Monday night's debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

While he congratulated the president in taking out Osama bin Laden, he argued that the US had to fight violent Muslim extremism by strengthening civil society in Islamic countries. 'We can't kill ourselves out of this mess,' he said. 'We don't want another Iraq. We don't want another Afghanistan.' Europe was barely mentioned at all.

Mr Romney claimed the President's weak, apologetic international leadership had failed to deal with a 'rising tide of chaos' and made the world a more dangerous place.

'You look at the record of the last four years and say, Is Iran closer to a bomb? Yes,' he said.

'Is the Middle East in tumult? Yes. Is al Qaeda on the run, on its heels? No. Are Israel and the Palestinians closer to reach a peace agreement? No.' America's influence in the world was receding rather than growing, said Mr Romney.

He appeared to hit a nerve when he once again accused the President of going on an 'apology tour' of the world, berating him for saying that America had in the past 'dictated' to other countries.

'America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators,' said Mr Romney. …

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