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FP: From Strength to Strength

Authors: Jeremy D. Rosner, and Sanford D. Greenberg
February 29, 2012


At Foreign Policy, Jeremy Rosner and Stanley Greenberg argue that Americans believe in President Barack Obama's foreign policy competence, and that Republican candidates' attacks on his national security record will likely have limited resonance.

Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie's recent article in Foreign Policy urges the Republican presidential aspirants to attack President Barack Obama more vigorously on his national security record. It's a debate that the president and Democrats should welcome.

At the outset, leave aside the source of the counsel -- listening to top aides to President George W. Bush proffer advice on foreign policy is a bit like hearing Mrs. O'Leary and her cow lecture about urban planning, after they've burned down Chicago.

The real problem with their advice is that it badly misreads both the president's record and how the public assesses it. Americans may be sharply polarized on many issues, but they are relatively aligned on their confidence in Obama as commander in chief. Over 60 percent approve of the job Obama is doing handling terrorism -- and this was true even before the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. According to a February ABC/Washington Post survey, voters trust Obama to handle international affairs more than the Republican Party's likely standard-bearer, Mitt Romney, by an outsized 19-point margin.

What explains these strong ratings?

Historically, Americans are fairly non-ideological on foreign policy. Above all, they want results, and that is what Obama has produced.

This article is a rebuttal to Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie's "How to Beat Obama."

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