On the eve of Monday's foreign-policy debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, two prominent conservative leaders allied with Mitt Romney predict that as president he would pursue an "America first" foreign policy that is less interventionist that in recent administrations and more like President Eisenhower's in the 1950s.
Eisenhower was the five-star general who led U.S. and Allied forces to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Washington Times that he predicts Mitt Romney will be a "pragmatic realist who puts America's interests first."
That "America first" language is often associated with conservatives such as author-commentator Patrick J. Buchanan who oppose what they regard as the excessive tendency for the United States to intervene militarily around the globe.
A conservative leader and longtime personal friend of Mr. Romney's agreed with Mr. Gingrich.
"Like Newt, I suspect that a Romney foreign policy would indeed be less 'internationalist' in orientation than those pursued by President Obama and, to a lesser extent, by former President George W. Bush," said former American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene, who is now National Rifle Association president.
"Traditional Republicans have gone along with Republican presidents articulating internationalist, neoconservative foreign-policy themes, but are inherently skeptical of policies based on the assumption that we can or should try to remake the world in our own image," said Mr. Keene. "I have a sense that Romney shares this skepticism."
Mr. Keene said a less-internationalist foreign policy would not be inconsistent with America's firm alliance with Israel since its founding in 1949.
"One can, after all, be supportive of our friends like Israel and cognizant of the dangers posed by fundamentalist Muslim nations and a nuclear Iran without deciding therefore that the U.S. mission must be to simply go to war at every opportunity," Mr. Keene said.
"Eisenhower and to a lesser extent [President] Reagan believed that U.S. strength and leadership could protect our national interests without committing American troops everywhere and anywhere without very good reason," said Mr. Keene, who advised both the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan presidential-nomination campaigns.
"Reagan, after all, committed fewer U.S. troops to foreign battlefields that any modern U.S. president," Mr. Keene noted.
As with Mr. Gingrich in his run for the GOP presidential nomination earlier this year, Mr. Romney has anchored his foreign-policy views in unequivocally strong statements of support for Israel, using any means necessary to stop Iran's developing nuclear weapons and a deep hostility toward "radical Islam."
Those views contrast with what President Obama has tried to project as more temperate and diplomatic views about Israel, the establishment of a Palestinian state, containing Iran and nation-building in general.
Mr. Gingrich predicts a Romney administration would have less tolerance for unfair trade practices by the Chinese, more skepticism toward the radical Islamists who are hijacking the Arab Spring, and a reluctance to allow Europeans to draw the U.S. into economic and political problems.
Mr. Gingrich predicted Mr. Romney "will seek to rebuild bipartisan consensus on national security and foreign-policy issues with moderate Democrats — think Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.
That sort of consensus has been largely absent during Mr. Obama'sterm, though Mr. Warner has opposed some liberal stimulus initiatives initiated by Mr. Obama, including "clunkers for cash," saying there should be more reliance on free markets to revive the economy.
Mr. Gingrich thinks Mr. Romney understands that, foreign policy aside, rebuilding the American economy, its manufacturing sector and education system, while also improving domestic energy production and the nation's finances, are collectively the key to the United States "remaining the leading power in the world."
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