Candidates clash on foreign policy


Mitt Romney affected another major transformation last night, morphing from a hawk who less than a year ago suggested that if the US wanted peace it must prepare for war to Mr Romney the peacenik and advocate of civil society, promising not bombs but development aid, challenging Barack Obama from his left flank when he said "we can’t kill our way out of this mess" in the Middle East.

It was the same manoeuvre Romney executed in Denver on October 3rd, the same rush towards the elusive undecided and independent voters at the political centre, adapted from domestic to foreign policy.

This time, Mr Obama was ready for it, repeatedly saying he was glad the former governor had seen the light, all the while pointing out that Romney had been "all over the map".

If the president won on points, as most pundits agreed, Mr Romney was the smoother, more congenial salesman, peddling simple, safe change with a paternalistic smile. "We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam… reject this radical violent extremism," he said. Nice work if you can get it.

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