Defense & National Security

House Foreign Affairs Republicans call Romney ‘Reaganesque’

House Foreign Affairs Republicans call Romney 'Reaganesque'

With the close Monday of the third and final presidential debate of 2012, Mitt Romney’s performance won high marks from the leading House Republicans dealing with foreign affairs, the primary topic of the Republican nominee’s televised exchange with Barack Obama.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Chris Smith (N.J.), senior Republican on the panel and a leading candidate to succeed Ros-Lehtinen when she is termed out as chairman this year, both told Human Events they felt strongly that Romney had gained ground with his handling of foreign policy issues in the debate.

“I think Mitt Romney won because he showed President Obama has had a policy of appeasement and not pursuing peace through strength,” Ros-Lehtinen told us shortly after the debate concluded. “And Mr. Obama tried to sound more Israeli than (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. And that was laughable!”

Ros-Lehtinen took a particular shot at Obama’s claims of imposing the “toughest sanctions” on Iran. Noting that this is an issue on which she worked closely as Foreign Affairs chairman in the House, the Floridian said “we had no help writing the Iran sanctions bill from the administration—nothing. In fact, if (Obama) had any role at all, it was to slow it down and make the final version weaker. And now, Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear bomb.”

Along with gaining ground in his exchanges with Obama over Iran and Israel, Ros-Lehtinen feels that Romney’s injecting Latin America into the debate would not only help him in Florida but with voters of Latin American heritage in general.

“He was the only one who brought up Latin America, the importance of increased trade and how trade relations with Latin America would be the wave of the future,” she told us, adding that this was a contrast to “a president who congratulates (Venezuela’s Marxist strongman Hugo) Chavez and deals with the Castro brothers in Cuba.”

Summarizing the debate, Ros-Lehtinen said that “Obama looked as though he had kryptonite — (the one element that can harm the comic book hero Superman) — but not even that could make Mitt Romney lose his cool. He was invulnerable.”

New Jersey’s Smith, a veteran of 32 years in the House, told Human Events that “Obama’s lack of humility was apparent in the debate. As someone who came into Congress with Ronald Reagan in 1980, I was especially upset when he put down Mitt Romney for ‘importing the foreign policy of the 1980’s.’ That foreign policy of the ’80’s promoted democracy through Russia and every one of those countries in Eastern Europe that are now free.”

Smith, a longtime champion of human rights in Congress, also mentioned how he felt Obama’s talk of protection of religious minorities rang hollow. Referring to a subcommittee he chairs, the New Jerseyan recalled how “we held three hearings on the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt this year and tried to put religious freedom language in the (foreign operations) appropriation bill. That could have sent a strong message, but (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton made sure it was watered down.”

The veteran lawmaker also said that the spokesman for the Human Rights Institute “which is a liberal organization, described the failure of the administration to unify the opponents of the Assad regime in Syria and its policy toward Syria as ‘damaging passivity.’ I agree with that.”

Smith felt that Romney scored points as a leader in bringing up the administration’s scuttling of a missile defense in Poland and his repeated jabs at Obama for “failing the people in the streets of Iran.”

“Barack Obama came across as a very poor debater and a very poor leader,” he said, while “Mitt Romney was Reaganesque.”

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