NOW with Alex Wagner | July 24, 2012
>> the latest tour coming up next.
>>> governor mitt romney is digging out his passport, changing some currency and perhaps dusting off an old beret before heading to the olympics in london , where his wife's horse rafalka will compete in the sport of dressage. the london stop is part of an international tour that will take him to poland and on to israel . how do you say rafalka in polish? meanwhile, romney is launching a foreign policy offensive on the president before he leaves for the uk today . his prepared remarks say in part i am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. i am not ashamed of american power. i do not view america as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. joining us now from washington is the editor in chief of " foreign policy " magazine, susan glasser. always great to see you.
>> thanks. good to see you, too.
>> susan , foreign policy , mitt romney 's had a difficult dance on foreign policy thus far. we know that he misinterpreted yesterday a comment made in a conversation with the australian foreign minister , bob carr . he called russia our number one geopolitical enemy and his comments about his aggressive stance on china i think among some circles, even among conservative circles and specifically henry kissinger have worried some of those folks who understand the delicate nature of our relationship with china. where would you put him on the foreign policy sort of learning curve at this point?
>> well, i have to tell you, it makes it a little bit surprising that they're choosing to jump into foreign policy in the middle of the campaign right now. it's not seen as a strong point, certainly the polls don't suggest it's a voting issue. it's number 14 on the list of things voters are concerned about this year. and also, i think it may tend to underscore romney 's sort of inconsistent and not fully formed views as a candidate. hopefully he won't wear the beret you're talking about in the introduction.
>> hopefully he will. hopefully he will. that's how you make friends over there.
>> we'll see, alex. that would be an interesting decision indeed. but it's funny to hear barack obama yesterday giving his own foreign policy speech criticizing romney as the inexperienced challenger. how quickly four years changes things, right.
>> but you know, it's worth pointing out, i want to play sound from robert gibbs , who made a point yesterday on a conference call with reporters about how much more quote, unquote, transparent the president was, how much more available he was to the press when he did his first sort of international tour overseas. let's listen to what he said.
>> the question i think for governor romney is whether this trip will be similarly substantive and live up to the bar that was set in 2008 or whether this is one long photo op and fund-raising tour. i mean, it's one thing to do generalities and platitudes on a campaign trail, but to go to these countries where these issues are crucially important and obviously are very important, enormously important back home, and not give details.
>> susan , you seem to think, though, correct me if i'm wrong, that he can probably skate by on platitudes right now given the level of interest there is in terms of foreign policy specifics here at home.
>> yes, but at the same time, there are risks and they are very real risks for mitt romney taking the trip. remember, obama was greeted by a cheering crowd of 200,000 people when he made his famous speech in germany four years ago. i don't think that mitt romney is going to be looking at crowds like that. that's a point of contrast certainly. i think obama has come out pretty hard attacking him, saying where's your plan for afghanistan, we read an item the other day on our website pointing out even republican senators aren't sure where mitt romney falls down on this major war that the u.s. is very much involved in. i think he has potential weaknesses and therefore risks of going overseas. remember, he's also going to make specifics points. he's going to israel because he wants to shore up i think his status with key voters in key swing states . he's not necessarily looking to make an overall appeal with that stop as much as he is to make a particular point where he thinks obama is weak.
>> mark, you know, there are pros and cons as far as this trip. one is, mitt romney has been thus far anemic on foreign policy . it takes him off message in terms of focus on the economy and domestic concerns. the plus is that he gets to do this outreach to israel , he will contrast the president's position vis a vis russia with his when he's in poland. do you think he wins points? do the negatives outweigh the positives?
>> it's probably, unless some big mistakes happen, a net plus. it's mostly going to be an invisible trip. i'm not sure the romney campaign gamed this out. think about president obama 's trip when he went, the drama, the scale of the photo ops. all three broadcast network anchors flew over and did interviews with him. this is going to be competing with the olympics. it's only three stops. hard to see how he will get much coverage in london . they have not laid out exactly what the events of the trip are going to be but i would be surprised if by any metric, that this breaks through in any meaningful way.
>> keep in mind --
>> unless, unless mitt romney makes a three-pointer on the first try.
>> hugo --
>> i would like to see him, what kind of game he's got.
>> does rafalka winning a gold medal in dressage help or hurt mitt romney ?
>> i will go with hurt. john?
>> if i may --
>> well, no, that's why he's going to london . the initial reports we heard were mitt romney wants to go to london and wants to be there for his wife and his horse, and we are going to build a trip around it. i don't know how accurate that is, but it would sort of explain some of the timing around this.
>> that does help explain the timing and i'll say hurt, if there's a lot of focus on dressage, a sport many americans are not familiar with. i think from what i've heard in talking to a romney source, they don't necessarily want a lot of attention. this is a box to check that you've done this and susan , when you brought up the trip that obama went on, which i was there, they are happy if you start playing on tv that picture of 200,000 people in the garden in berlin because they think that's a good contrast that they want to make, that romney 's going to get something done. i'm pretty sure he'll get his photo op in front of ten downing street as obama did, as a courtesy.
>> he's meeting with david cameron .
>> right. and i think they're not looking for anything more than if you want to contrast this with obama 's trip with the visuals from that, we all remember john mccain beat him up afterwards.
>> sure. he was the candidate of european socialists. susan , i want to bring you in here. in terms of the other thing the romney trip does is highlight the president's foreign policy successes when he goes to the middle east , and you know, the romney spokesperson andrea saul says president obama thinks visiting israel is a distraction, it is clear that his foreign policy is confused, ineffective and is weakened in every corner of the world. what do you make of that?
>> again, certainly there's no polling information whatsoever to suggest that this is a weakness for president obama . quite the contrary. many democrats believe this is a sort of once in a generation chance to run as a strong national security candidate, something that's been very unusual historically even in the post- cold war . i think the obama team probably rightfully views their record on national security and foreign policy as an asset. i think that romney has made a pretty confused presentation so far. it's not really clear what his foreign policy is except as he said the other day about israel , he said what's my policy on israel going to be? exactly what barack obama 's was and the opposite. so he's really running as a critic of obama 's rather than laying out his own plan which of course was something that obama pointed out yesterday.
>> susan glasser of " foreign policy " magazine, i don't like being on the other side of the aisle on team romney and berets versus team romney and not in berets but we see eye-to-eye on so many other things. thank you for your time.