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October 23rd, 2012
12:41 PM ET

Sen. Portman addresses Romney's Afghanistan 2014 withdrawal promise, despite arguing a timeline shouldn't be announced

This morning on "Starting Point," Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) talks with Soledad about Mitt Romney's performance in the last presidential debate. Portman played Obama in debate prep for the Romney campaign.

Portman thinks it was a good night for Romney.

"I think he appeared reassuring and thoughtful and knowledgeable," Portman says. "Having played President Obama, I wasn't surprised by a whole lot that he said because it's sort of the same lines."

"I think the foreign policy not the top issue in the country right now. It's jobs and the economy. They did bring it back to that a few times, appropriately, really, because our ability to be strong overseas is dependent on our ability to be stronger at home. I think on those issues, Governor Romney is doing better because he's talking about a vision. He's talking about a strategy to get us back on track," Portman says. "It's important for us to have a vision to deal with the underlying causes, for instance, of Islamic extremism. That's why I think it was a good debate for Governor Romney."

Portman also addresses criticism that Romney agreed with many of the policies President Obama has put forth.

"I thought when Governor Romney did that it was refreshing to a lot of undecided voters who are tired of the attacks back and forth and the politics. And, look, when Governor Romney thought the President was right he said so. He also made it clear, by the way, that although he supported the drone attacks, he supported going after bin Laden, that that was not sufficient. And that's when he said we cannot kill our way out of these problems. We need to provide a vision and a strategy for the future that deals with the underlying problems here of Islamic extremism, and the spread of it," Portman adds.

O'Brien asks Portman about Romney's position on a withdrawal date from Afghanistan. Romney has said the U.S. shouldn't announce a withdrawal date, but still argues we should get out by 2014. Soledad asks if that's a contradiction.

"No, he thinks we ought to get out by 2014. The question is how you communicate it, and whether you listen to the commanders on the ground about how you get there," Portman says.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Foreign policy • Politics
October 23rd, 2012
12:16 PM ET

Fmr. U.S. Amb. to NATO Burns: Obama more 'knowledgeable' on foreign policy in debate

Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns says Obama was 'more knowledgeable' and 'self-assured' on foreign policy.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Foreign policy
October 22nd, 2012
12:50 PM ET

VIDEO: Amb. Negroponte says final debate should not solely focus on Benghazi attack

Council of the Americas chairman John Negroponte on how much of the final presidential debate should focus on Libya.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Foreign policy • Politics
October 8th, 2012
02:25 PM ET

Romney advisor Amb. Williamson: President Obama has 'led from behind' on foreign policy & 'this administration doesn't have credibility'

Richard Williamson, former Ambassador to the United Nations for special political affairs and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's senior foreign policy adviser, addresses questions about the differences between Romney and President Obama's foreign policy plans.

Transcript available after the jump.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Foreign policy • Politics
October 8th, 2012
08:37 AM ET

Romney rep.: 'Clear' difference on foreign policy from Obama, says a Romney presidency will stand side-by-side with Israel

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Romney Campaign Senior Communications Advisor Tara Wall says there's a 'clear difference' between the foreign policy plans of her candidate and President Obama.

"Americans need to understand there is a clear and distinct choice between these candidates, relative to their approaches to foreign policy and how we lead, how we have led, how this president has led, how this president failed to lead it in a large degree, even just recently," Wall says.

Soledad points out that Romney's foreign policy plan is very similar to President Obama's, and pushes Wall for details on those differences.

"I'm sure you can find similarities in a number of positions with leaders on a number of different issues," Wall adds. "There are those clear differences that have been spelled out, that we do spell out. and the approach that this governor takes and plans to take relative to cracking down on terrorists and enemies and those who are out to harm us and out to harm our allies."

The conversation became heated when Soledad asks Wall about Romney's position on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Soledad notes the contradicting points from a secret video tape released earlier this year, where Romney says "I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I've had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace. And that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." Soledad compares that to Romney's upcoming foreign policy speech today, where excerpts say he will "recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel."

"We will stand side-by-side with Israel, and the Governor has made that clear," Wall says. "I'm not going to get into a big foreign policy debate with you here...that's not my position, not my role. If you want to talk about that I suggest you put on a couple of foreign affairs experts and let them go at it and pick this apart in the way you'd like to have it picked apart. But I think we've clearly stated what our position is."

Filed under: Foreign policy • Iran • Israel • Palestinians