WASHINGTON (AP) — To aid his vision of a century of American dominance, Mitt Romney has assembled a team of moderate to conservative advisers who in many ways resemble the breadth of U.S. foreign policy under President George W. Bush.
Almost all of Romney’s 22 special advisers held senior Bush administration positions in diplomacy, defense or intelligence. Two former Republican senators are included as well as Bush-era CIA chief Michael Hayden and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
In a speech Friday to cadets and others at the The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, Romney criticized President Barack Obama for surrendering “America’s role in the world.” The message built on his previous claims that the Obama’s international has failed internationally on everything from defending Israel’s security to pressuring Iran over its nuclear enrichment activity.
Announcing his foreign policy lineup a day earlier, Romney’s campaign said the group will assist the GOP presidential hopeful “as he presents his vision for restoring American leadership in the world and securing our enduring interests and ideals abroad.”
The advisers include a number of highly respected experts in their fields, and some big names among the Washington establishment of foreign policy thinkers.
Yet the list doesn’t include either of the two most recent Republican secretaries of state, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, or other key Bush administration policymakers such as two-time Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Beyond Hayden and Chertoff, Romney has brought in the State Department’s former counterterrorism coordinator, Cofer Black, and arms control chief Robert Joseph, and former Undersecretaries of Defense Eric Edelman and Dov Zakheim.
Other leading figures include ex-Northern Ireland peace envoy Mitchell Reiss and Navy Secretary John Lehman. From Congress’ alumni, former Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Jim Talent of Missouri, as well as onetime Rep. Vin Weber of Minnesota have joined the team.
One possibly controversial adviser is the Middle East scholar Walid Phares, a Christian of Lebanese descent accused by Muslim groups of having had ties to Christian militias during that country’s civil war.
Among the academic heavyweights now advising Romney is the foreign policy thinker Robert Kagan.
Kagan is the husband of former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland, who in her current position as the State Department spokeswoman promotes and explains the Obama administration’s policies in the world. She declined to comment on her husband’s role in the Romney campaign.