Step Two: Remind voters of Obama’s “hot mike” groveling to Russia
Earlier this year, a “hot microphone” picked up a conversation between President Obama and Russia’s then-president, Dmitry Medvedev, that was not intended for the ears of the American voter. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama said of Vladimir Putin, who was then scheduled to replace Medvedev and has since done so. “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
Romney should juxtapose this quote with words that Obama uttered this past week: “I’m going to let you in on a little tip,” Obama told supporters, speaking into the microphone on purpose this time. “When a politician tells you he’s going to wait until after the election, it’s not because their plan is so good that they don’t want to spoil the secret.” Obama, of course, spoiled his own secret about caving in to the Russians on missile defense, and indeed, it was not because his plan was “so good.” (Guy Benson beat me to the punch on this.)
Like the Benghazi-gate cover-up, this reinforces the notion that President Obama isn’t always straight with us on important issues. It also makes one wonder with trepidation what else he has in store if we give him the “flexibility” that would come with a second and final term.
Step Three: Remind voters of Obama’s “hot mike” disparagement of our closest ally in the Middle East
Last year, another “hot microphone” picked up a conversation between Obama and France’s then-president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Speaking of Israel’s prime minister, Sarkozy said: “I cannot bear Netanyahu. He’s a liar.”
Obama famously responded: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.”
Perhaps this is what gave Obama the inspiration for the “liar, liar” name-calling campaign that he would eventually wage against Romney. But more importantly, it feeds the widespread suspicion that Obama is not as strong a supporter of Israel as he insists in public. It feeds the broader suspicion that this president is too solicitous of our enemies and too antagonistic to our friends.
These three steps don’t come close to covering Romney’s “to do” list on foreign policy. He will have to link Obama’s failures on the economy and debt to our diminishing capacity to protect our interests and ourselves around the world. He will have to resist Obama’s inevitable attempts to paint him as a dangerous warmonger. Mostly, Romney will just have to look credible and reliable as a potential commander-in-chief. But by focusing voters on the Benghazi-gate cover-up and the two “hot mike” moments, Romney can accelerate the growing distrust of Obama’s leadership abroad — and at home.
David B. Cohen served in the administration of President George W. Bush as U.S. Representative to the Pacific Community, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He is the author of Left-Hearted, Right-Minded: Why Conservative Policies Are The Best Way To Achieve Liberal Ideals.