Advice for Romney for tonight's debate: Work the word "peace" into your conversation, very naturally, about 15 or 20 times. Undecided women voters want peace. They want peace. They want peace. And there also is a strain of libertarian-leaning, "pox on both houses" voter that hates Obama's domestic policies but also hates what said strain of voters falsely calls "neocon" foreign policy and is just so damned disgusted enough to stay home rather than vote at all. Any vote would be for Romney, but they just might go hunting instead. They, too, want peace.
Look, I am a huge booster of stronger, bigger defense forces. I lean interventionist abroad. But the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine is still a good one: Only commit troops for dire reasons, for clear objectives, and with overwhelming force. One can be for, yes, peace through strength. One can advocate more military spending than Obama while still emphasizing that you don't want to be a foreign adventurer. In fact, Romney will come across as more "hawkish" and more pro-defense than Obama no matter what he says -- so he may as well play for the indy women's vote by emphasizing, again and again, how his policies will help ensure the peace, the peace, the peace.
Romney needs to sound firm but calm and reasoned. The very nature of the topic makes it important for him not to be as in-your-face to Obama: Stylistic aggressiveness combined with the topic of defense and war will come across as saber-rattling. A few very well-practiced, firm, but quiet lines of criticism will do far more than bluster will tonight.
Finally, for what it's worth, some matter-of-fact citations of the tacit endorsement from Lech Walesa would be very well advised. Note that Walesa got the biggest boost of his career from the 9-day visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland, a visit where faith most definitely worked in favor of freedom. A nice pivot to religious liberty would then be in order, with a note that never before have Catholic organizations felt so threatened that dozens of them felt the need to sue the federal government -- and, for that matter, if Obama isn't hostile to religious liberty, why did even the liberals on the Supreme Court slap him down 9-0 in a religious liberty case called Hosanna-Tabor? In the context of Walesa, freedom, etcetera, this pivot to a domestic issue will leave Obama bumfuzzled.
Oh... and did I mention that the idea is PEACE through strength? Peace out.....
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