In the last several weeks, Mitt Romney’s foreign policy poll numbers have skyrocketed.
If Mr. Romney sustains his present momentum and surges to a presidential victory next Tuesday, campaign historians and election chroniclers will laser in on the moment when he passed the all-important “commander-in-chief" threshold and solidified his foreign policy bona fides.
From September to October, Pew found that Romney scored a 15-point gain on foreign policy issues. Romney’s foreign policy surge has been so dramatic that on Wednesday the New York Times sought to slow his momentum by blurring President Barack Obama's and Mr. Romney's positions in an article titled “Two Candidates, One Foreign Policy.”
What caused such a drastic shift, especially against a sitting president who presided over the killing of Osama bin Laden?
At least two events dramatically altered Mr. Romney’s foreign policy trajectory.
On September 10th, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen set off a firestorm of controversy with the publication of an article titled, “Why is Obama Skipping More Than Half of His Daily Intelligence Meetings?” The article cited a simple three-page study conducted by the Government Accountability Institute that found that Mr. Obama had attended just 43.8% of his daily intelligence briefings (officially known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB). The same day, when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about the report, Mr. Carney blasted the Government Accountability Institute’s finding, calling it “hilarious.” Mr. Carney added: “This president is very much steeped in the details of national security issues.” Furthermore, he explained, the president gets the briefing in writing, often on his iPad.
The very next day, with legitimate questions about Mr. Obama’s spotty PDB attendance record swirling in the mainstream media, on September 11th, the U.S. embassy in Cairo was attacked and the Al Qaeda flag was raised on American soil. Later in the day, the U.S. consulate building in Benghazi came under terrorist attack, and U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered. Stevens' corpse was dragged through the streets amid cheering crowds.
On September 12th Breitbart News ran an exclusive report revealing that the White House calendar showed that Mr. Obama had not attended his daily intelligence briefings the entire week leading up to the Benghazi attack.
Now, with documents revealing that the consulate in Benghazi had warned the White House they had “no police support,” adding to a growing list of known security concerns, the New York Times is reporting that just 38% of voters approve of “the administration’s handling of the attacks on the consulate in Libya.”
Whether Mr. Romney can carry his present foreign policy momentum through the weekend and into Election Day remains to be seen. If he does, having closed a 15-point gap on foreign policy issues in such a short span of time will prove to have been a critical component in paving the path to victory.