Election 2012

Obama-Romney Foreign Policy Debate Word Counts

Lots of talk but not much was said. Even less was discussed.


thanks for not asking follow-ups

Reports about the narrow focus in tonight's debate were confirmed, with most of the portion of the foreign policy debate actually spent on foreign policy being spent on terrorism and the Middle East/North Africa, and China.

Africa and Europe are mentioned once, the European Union once (Mitt Romney imagined the EU would agree to more sanctions on Iran) and Asia twice. The relevant quote, from the president:

And, Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger — in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat. But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can start rebuilding America.

Latin America was referenced in one answer by Mitt Romney:

Trade grows about 12 percent per year. It doubles about every — every five or — or so years. We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America. The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken advantage of fully.

As a matter of fact, Latin America's economy is almost as big as the economy of China. We're all focused on China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us: time zone, language opportunities.

Though the Middle East and North Africa were the primary focus, Yemen and Somalia, where the president acknowledged in June military operations were being conducted, were only mentioned once, by Obama:

Well, keep in mind our strategy wasn't just going after bin Laden. We've created partnerships throughout the region to deal with extremism — in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan.

Iran got 40 mentions, exclusively on its alleged nuclear program and the appropriate American response, Israel 34, in reference to alliance and to Iran. Iraq got 22 mentions, including Romney pushing the president on his Iraq war lie, and Afghanistan 21, though nothing much was said. Libya, America's latest intervention, got 12 mentions (Benghazi just one despite being the first question, but Mali, which was overrun by militants after the Libya war 4, from Romney) while Pakistan got 25 and Syria 24, mostly on how American intervention in those places ought to look.

Mexico got zero mentions despite a bloody drug war along the border while China got 32, because it's election season and jobs. Jobs, by the way, were mentioned 32 times and the economy 25. As for debt as a national security issue, debt was mentioned 8 times and deficit 9. Balanced budget got 6, but don't hold your breath, both candidates back increased military spending.

Transcript here.

NEXT: CNN Presidential Debate Poll: Obama 48 Percent Romney 40 Percent

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  1. I’d like to give Kudos to Romney for mentioning Mali. Better informed than I thought.

  2. The Iraq War is still going on? Ed is in the GOP Bubble with John. And he probably thinks Libya is a war too.

    1. If you had read the link, you inbred redneck-striver moron, you’d notice that it was Bush who set up the timeline for the removal of troops from Iraq, and Obama adhered to that timeline only because the Iraqis insisted; he’d still have troops there if he had is druthers. So no, Ed does not thing the Iraq war is still going on you fucking retard.

      1. Bush had routinely ignored prior agreements, you imbecile. He wanted an “enduring presence” in Iraq as testimony to his Americanization of the Middle East and his nation building.

        1. Citation needed.

          1. It’s in his name. As usual.

            1. You Bush fans quickly forget the 104 acre 21 building US embassy in Baghdad and how the Cheney plan was to use Iraq as a base to invade Iran and Syria while setting up oil contractors all over the area?

              Only problem was that no one asked the Iraqis what they wanted. Al Sadr, the Shia’ pimp, should get a fucking Medal of Freedom for resisting the American horde.

              1. If I was a Bush fan, I’d vote for Obama.

                1. Good bumper sticker fodder.

                  1. (@ Whiterun Guard.)

              2. It’s not often I can say this, but I’m probably the expert on this issue here, and you’re full of shit, you pathetic sub-human piece of shit.

                The only people who got “resisted” were 22-year-old American kids on highly-traveled Iraqi roads who got blown to hell and back by Iranian arms planted by Iranian citizens taught by Iranian military to detonate Iranian bombs, and the HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of innocent Iraqis killed in market bombings.

                Sadr didn’t resist us, we toppled the regime that his family had fought for decades – he resisted us staying in his country and trying to take over as the slum lord in his neighborhood. Which Barack Obama unquestionably wanted to continue, no matter what bullshit you try to spin. Al-Sadr is a gang leader, and he didn’t want his turf encroached upon by other gangs. “Freedom” for anyone not named “Muqtada” wasn’t on the list.

                If you haven’t been to Sadr City, you don’t know fuckall about Sadr City. In a year-plus of being in the news, I never saw the news services get it right about anything that happened there. Not even once.

        2. Shriek is simply regurgitating talking points from Democrat headquarters.

          When you begin to realize this you understand that he doesn’t mean to make sense, or tell the truth, or argue in good faith. He simply pukes up what others have told him. When you can not think for yourself, this is with all you are left.

  3. Three debates, not a single question about drug policy. Joke.

    1. It’s not controversial. Try polling on it and you’ll see hardly anyone is concerned about drug policy, and these days hardly anyone is even interested in the subject of drug concerns or problems. It’s probably best that way; lower concern bodes well for future neglect.

  4. What about Europe?

    1. Don’t worry. We’ll bomb it soon enough.

      1. Of course! They only spoke about countries they want to bomb tonight.

    2. What the fuck is a “Europe”?

      /sarc off

    3. What about it?

  5. Obama said tonight that Benghazi has been secured.


    Say what you want about Mittens, but I’m incredibly depressed that during all three of these debates no one has been made to answer for a serious lapse in our national security.

    On 9/11/2012 a group of Islamic jihadists murdered four Americans and took over our sovereign soil in Libya, and raised an al-qaeda flag on the roof.

    As much as everyone would like to put 9/11 and Islamic Jihad behind us, it’s alive and well and no one seems to give a shit.

    I will agree with most of the Reason commentariat that neither of the candidates have offered any answers, but we are still left with the same problem: what’s the point of having “sovereign” soil if we aren’t going to be serious about defending it?

    1. I guarantee that Obama had some perfectly rehearsed bullshit answer ready if that question came up. Romney was smart to lay off it. Let it simmer in the media for another couple of weeks, instead of giving Obama the perfect opportunity to shut it down and change the subject.

      1. Just for shits and giggles, what do you think his perfectly rehearsed answer would be? I mean, it STILL isn’t secure. The FBI gave up even trying to do forensics, they couldn’t um, GUARANTEE SECURITY DURING THEIR INVESTIGATION.

        So why do we even have an embassy there? Are we investing in real estate over the long term? I hear the market in Libya is looking up, so sure, that makes sense.

        1. I have no idea. But I can promise you it was focus tested with the base and independents, and designed for maximum impact in the morning headlines. He was probably itching for Romney to step into the trap.

    2. Not saying that it shouldn’t have been much more vigorously defended, but is that “sovreign soil” thing really true about embassies and consulates?

      1. Technically, no.

  6. There are a lot of conversation about this issue, but there is nothing to decide.

    1. Mmm hmm – do go on, please…

  7. We’ve created partnerships…in Somalia

    That just leads to roads being eliminated in the US. It must stop!

    1. You can’t stop progress!

  8. Nothing about the merits of walking guns across our southern border?

    1. Obama has routinely ignored prior agreements, you imbecile. He wants an “enduring presence” in Mexico as testimony to his Americanization of Central America and his nation building.

      1. Nation building begins at home! And that includes Mexico. You have been warned.

      2. Nicely done.

      3. “Americanization of Central America”

        Next we will be hearing about the Asianization of Korea.



    1. “The drone strike, which killed three of Romney’s sons sitting near the debate stage, reportedly also took the lives of at least 45 civilians, including 12 Lynn University students, nine Secret Service agents, first daughter Malia Obama, and two cameramen.”

      Some commenters would say that if they didn’t want to be killed they should not have associated themselves with the target of the strike. Let this be a lesson to those who associate with people those in power perceive as a danger to their political agendas.

  10. Mexico got zero mentions despite a bloody drug war along the border

    Ha! Romney was *not* “all over the map”!

  11. “Balanced budget got 6, but don’t hold your breath, both candidates back increased military spending.”

    I wouldn’t worry – O! is simply lying to look like a tough gai, and Mittens will get in and look at some spreadsheets and quietly go technocrat and cut (too little) as part of some “shared sacrifice” compromise that includes a tax increase.

  12. So, who comes up with all that crazy stuff?

  13. I’m encouraged. The fewer foreign countries the POTUS is concerned about, the better.

  14. our alliances have never been stronger ? in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat. But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can start rebuilding America., that security had been reduced, and more coach outlet Via CNN and other sources, we continue to learn more about the constant screwups and miscommunications plaguing our presence in Libya. What kind of world are we living in when politicians (including Republicans!) seem more fixated on a throwaway line in a speech rather than a serious investigation of why American diplomats are being killed?coach outlet online Those are the sorts of questions that the presidential debates – and ensuing media colloquies – would be better off asking. And not just about Libya but the bigger question of U.S. foreign policy.

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