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.