The international crisis at two U.S. embassies began at the beginning of last week and so did Mitt Romney’s latest struggle with foreign policy. We know how many professional Republicans and Democrats responded to Romney’s reaction but what about the American people? Were they paying attention and if so, what do they think about Romney’s early statement attacking the president and the diplomatic corps, even as they were under attack and about how the president handled the situation?
Obama has had a lead in foreign policy in most polls. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press did more digging. They recently conducted a poll asking first if people were following the story and second what they thought of Mitt Romney’s response to the situation and also President Obama’s response to the situation. Here is some of what they found.
About four-in-ten Americans (43%) have followed news about the attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East and the killing of an American ambassador very closely, making it by far the most closely followed foreign news story of the year.
Those who have followed this story have much more positive opinions about Barack Obama’s handling of the situation than Mitt Romney’s comments on the crisis. Nearly half (45%) approve of Obama’s handling of the recent attacks on U.S. embassies and the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya; 36% disapprove of Obama’s handling of this situation.
In contrast, only about a quarter (26%) of those who have tracked news on turmoil in the Middle East approve of Romney’s comments on the situation; nearly half (48%) disapprove.
The Pew Poll also found:
Romney gets higher marks among those who have followed Middle East events very closely than among those who followed them less closely. Even among this group, however, more disapprove (49%) than approve (34%) of his comments on the situation.
There are only modest partisan differences in attentiveness to the recent attacks on the embassies and the killing of the U.S. ambassador: 48% of Republicans, 41% of Democrats and 45% of independents have followed this story very closely.
During the DNC, President Obama used Mitt Romney’s previous foreign policy gaffes in the United Kingdom as a punchline. This week’s events however, are anything but funny.