There are several reasons why American presidential candidates include overseas trips as part of their campaigning. First, and particularly important for those aspirants who lack significant foreign policy experience, it allows American voters to get a preview as to how the candidate might represent the United States on the global stage by interacting with foreign leaders and communicating with international audiences. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama's jaunt across the Atlantic, especially his "rock star" rally in Berlin's Tiergarten and his visit to U.S. troops in Iraq, was quite successful in positioning the junior senator from Illinois as a plausible world leader. Second, a candidate may travel abroad to signal what his foreign policy priorities would be, or to draw contrasts with his predecessor or his rival. Then-Gov. George W. Bush's trip to Mexico in 2000 was designed to signal, both to Latin America as well as to a rising Latino constituency in the United States, that he would place more emphasis on America's hemispheric orientation, something that was indeed reflected in U.S. policy for the first months of the new administration, until the attacks of Sept. 11 dramatically shifted the focus elsewhere. Finally, to paraphrase Clausewitz, foreign travel is the continuation of domestic politics by other means. The overseas trip is but another venue to concentrate on key domestic constituencies.
Mitt Romney's trip to Britain, Israel and Poland this week attempted to combine all three of these purposes -- with mixed results. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
Sign up for two weeks of free access with your credit card. Cancel any time during the free trial and you will be charged nothing.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- The Realist Prism: With Cease-Fire, Ukraine Remains Stuck Between Russia and the West
- Global Insights: As China Ponders BMD Options, U.S. Must Consider Responses
- After Years of Talk, U.S.-India Defense Ties Gain Traction
- Diplomatic Fallout: Europe Needs Strategy to Address Libya, Ukraine Crises—Not Panic
- U.S. Recruits Europe and Latin America to Press Cuba to Open Up