Continued from page 2

He has vowed to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, asserted that the U.S. should not negotiate with the Taliban but “go anywhere they are and kill them,” and described Russia as America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Mr. Romney also came out strongly against the signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

“What Mr. Romney is doing is trying to indicate that he’s accepting all the positions in the Republican Party and casting as wide a net as possible to gather as much support as he can in the primaries,” said Joseph Nye, who served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration.

“The question is, where is he really?” said Mr. Nye, now a Harvard University professor credited with coining the phrase “soft power” to describe the importance of nonmilitary foreign policy initiatives.

“My hunch, having watched Romney as governor of Massachusetts, is that he would probably come out somewhere in the middle,” said Mr. Nye, whose 2004 book “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics,” has no doubt been on Mr. Romney’s reading list.

As the nonpartisan Global Leadership Coalition points out on its website, Mr. Romney’s own book, “No Apology,” asserted in 2010 that “America must act decisively to build and exercise greater soft power.”

Recent months have seen Mr. Romney’s advisers embrace a slightly firmer posture. His campaign “white paper” on foreign policy asserted that “the tools of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power must work together to be effective. They are compliments not substitutes for one another.

“I think Romney would be willing to be confrontational when necessary, but I think the basic inclination of a Romney policy would be first consolidate your alliance relationships, whoever it is, whether it be the Australians, the British, the Japanese or the Israelis, and let them know that you’re in their corner and that you’re standing beside them,” said Mr. Cohen.

But, he added, Mr. Romney is “an American’s American.”

“He does not come in with a defensive view of the United States, or of the United States being in decline and having to manage that decline.”