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Mitt Romney Says, “A President Is Not A Foreign Policy Expert” Then Demonstrates Why Maybe He Or She Should Be

Reported by Ellen - December 28, 2007 -

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Hannity & Colmes last night (12/27/07) in an effort to look presidential in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and its ramifications for the war on terror. First, Romney claimed that foreign policy expertise was not important for a president who can just “pluck out one of the tens of thousands” of people who work at the State Department to advise him. But when asked to evaluate recent State Department concerns about Bhutto’s return to Pakistan last October, Romney proved he was not just inexperienced about foreign policy but clueless. With video.

A little past two minutes into the interview, substitute co-host Rich Lowry asked Romney about the importance of a presidential candidate’s foreign policy experience. Referring to John McCain, Lowry asked, “Why shouldn’t voters turn to a candidate who’s been marinating in these kind of issues over the last few decades?”

Romney answered high handedly. “Well, if we want somebody who has a lot of experience in foreign policy, we can simply go to the State Department and pluck out one of the tens of thousands of people who work there. They have, of course, been doing foreign policy all their careers. But that’s not how we choose a president. A president is not a foreign policy expert. A president is a leader who understands how to make difficult decisions and does so in a way that brings together the best voices, that considers the upsides and downsides and projects the credibility and the strength that America has always projected in circumstances like this.”

Then, ignoring the fact that President Bush had no foreign policy experience, Romney continued, “One of our great foreign policy presidents was Ronald Reagan who, even though he had not spent years in the Senate, understood a vision of what we had to do to overcome the greatest threat of the last half of the last century and was able to bring together the various experts and the various viewpoints and sort them through and take action that led America to be successful in that great challenge that we faced then. So the kind of experience you want is someone who knows how to make difficult decisions, to bring together the right people that consider the various options that you have and then to act with strength and resolve.”

A few minutes later, at about 6:27 in the video below, Alan Colmes asked, “You said a couple of times today, including just a few moments ago to Rich that a good president’s gonna have people in State he or she can depend on and State Department knows what foreign policy is. State Department – our State Department – back in October, when Bhutto was going back (to Pakistan) was saying, ‘You know this is possibly a recipe for disaster because her turbulent past would further inflame an already volatile country.’ Should the president have listened to those bureaucrats at State who were saying those things?”

Romney replied, “Well, of course, any president is going to listen to the widest array of voices about the risks inherent in any potential strategy. You know, in a setting like this, you’re not looking for a person who has all the answers, themselves. Instead, you’re looking for an individual who knows how to make very difficult decisions, based upon gathering data and analysis directly from the scene, gathering information from people who have extensive experience in the region, first hand contact with leaders in other parts of the world, and then looking at different options and selecting which option is the best, based upon that analysis. And that’s the process you want to see. And that’s the process I’ve engaged in the business world, at the Olympics, and as a governor.”

In other words, he couldn’t answer the question.