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Nicholas Burns

Mitt Romney flunks his foreign-policy tryout

Governor Mitt Romney had a chance to demonstrate on his trip to Great Britain, Israel, and Poland that he is ready to take on the duties of America’s top diplomat and commander in chief — among the presidency’s most vital responsibilities. Yet for reasons that are hard to understand, Romney undermined himself through surprising lapses in judgment and careless rhetoric, and he failed to articulate his core beliefs on international policy. Far from building confidence in his foreign-policy credentials, the trip actually fueled doubts about his readiness to lead in the most complex and dangerous international environment in a generation.

Inevitably, foreign-policy tryouts for presidential candidates have much more to do with politics than with serious policy. Romney had much to showcase. He is very smart, and is more experienced and capable than his critics allow. Still, the erratic nature of his remarks in each capital was mystifying, especially in light of how important the trip was to his electoral hopes.

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