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Mitt Romney to lay out foreign policy, national security agenda (+video)

Following a series of rhetorical stumbles, Mitt Romney is scheduled to lay out his more muscular foreign policy and national security agenda at the Virginia Military Institute Monday. But is it really all that different from President Obama's?

By Staff writer / October 7, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney meet at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem in July.

Lior Mizrahi/AP

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When Mitt Romney gives what’s being billed as a major foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute Monday, it’ll be a chance for the Republican challenger to demonstrate his bona fides as would-be leader of the free world and US commander-in-chief. And, it might be added, to get beyond a series of stumbles critics say have demonstrated his lack of experience and insensitivity to the subtleties of diplomacy and national security.

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Gov. Mitt Romney is sharpening his attacks on President Obama and is about to call for changes in America's foreign policy. CBS News' Jan Crawford reports.

The VMI speech in Lexington, Va., promises to lay out the “stark contrast” between Mr. Romney's “vision for a strong foreign policy and the failed record of President Obama,” according to the Romney campaign. “Where President Obama has shown weakness, a Romney Administration will demonstrate strength and resolve. Where President Obama has shown equivocation, a Romney Administration will demonstrate clarity and never hesitate to speak out for American values.”

Aside from those generalities, Romney so far has offered few specifics – some of which in retrospect he may wish he hadn’t uttered.

“If Mitt Romney becomes president, he might need a crash course in Diplomacy 101,” writes Bradley Klapper in an Associated Press analysis Sunday.

Obama vs. Romney 101: 4 ways they differ on China

Among Romney’s “record of  diplomatic stumbles” as chronicled by the AP: Calling Russia – not China or Iran – American’s main global adversary; criticizing Britain over its preparations for the London Olympic Games; declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, which US administrations (Republican as well as Democrat) have refused to accept given Palestinian claims to the ancient city.

More recently, Romney made what many analysts – including many Republicans – found to be snap and intemperate comments in the middle of a diplomatic crisis across North Africa and the Middle East tied to a crude YouTube video disparaging of the Prophet Muhammad.

“He has not shown that he is a person of original foreign policy thinking,” Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan said at the time.

Two things Romney promises: A stronger US military and closer ties with Israel, including what sounds like a more threatening attitude toward Iran’s nuclear program. Romney’s personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes back many years to when they had business dealings in Boston. The largest donor to Super PACs supporting Romney is casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter of Zionism.

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