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It Comes Down to Foreign Policy

12:00 AM, Oct 17, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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On October 2, the day before the first debate, Mitt Romney trailed Barack Obama in the Real Clear Politics poll average by 3.3 percentage points. Today, just before the second debate, Romney led by 0.4 points—almost a 4-point swing in two weeks. What now?

Romney up

Probably, not much for the next few days. Obama may have stopped Romney's momentum, but it's hard to believe he reversed it. So we're likely to have a dead-even race going into the third and final debate Monday night. That potentially decisive debate is on foreign policy. So, after all the talk about how this election was inevitably and only going to be about the economy, foreign policy could well be the tie breaker.

Foreign policy isn't Romney's natural subject. It's not his comfort zone. And it's always more difficult for the challenger. Good. Romney will have to rise to the occasion. He should be able to make the case against Obama's foreign policy, and for his alternative. It isn’t unreasonable that he be asked to. After all, within months after being sworn in Romney (or Obama) will have to make important decisions on Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran.

So if Romney can't win the foreign policy debate, he probably won't win. If he can, if he rises to the challenge, he'll deserve victory, and he'll probably achieve it.  

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