ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN ADVISER DAN SENOR DISCUSSES CAMPAIGN STRATEGY AND FOREIGN POLICY, ON “CBS THIS MORNING”
SENOR ON FOREIGN POLICY: “THE BIGGEST CRISIS FACING THE UNITED STATES FROM A NATIONAL SECURITY STANDPOINT IS IRAN DEVELOPING A NUCLEAR WEAPONS CAPABILITY—TRAGICALLY, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REALLY WASTED THE FIRST COUPLE OF YEARS OF ITS ADMINISTRATION ON A FAILED STRATEGY TO ISOLATE IRAN TO RAMP UP ECONOMIC PRESSURE”
Romney-Ryan campaign adviser Dan Senor discussed campaign strategy and foreign policy with co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell live today, Sept. 21, 2012, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM).
Below is the transcript from the interview:
O’DONNELL: How’s the campaign doing?
SENOR: I think fine. These polls are going to move all over the place and I think there’s a tendency to overreact, in the punditry class, to the daily news that furnishes the headlines each day. The reality is it’s a very close race. Both campaigns have agreed that it’s going to be a close race right until the end. We’ve seen some movement that’s not positive; we’ve seen some movement that’s very positive. So I just think we continue to keep talking about what we’re talking about, which is the reality of this economy. One in six people living in poverty, another 20 million people on food stamps since President Obama became president, 23 million Americans out of work, underemployed or have just given up. So the reality is we’re going to have a big choice, a big debate, in the next few weeks and there will be a series of debates, both presidential and vice presidential, and you’ll see the campaign move all over the place in that context, but we think the issues in the macro environment certainly are on our side.
O’DONNELL: You’ve got less than 50 days left. You have a debate in about two weeks from now. How important do you think this debate is two weeks from now?
SENOR: I think there’s a tendency to overstate the significance of debates. I think all the debates are important. The debates we’ve been having that are not formal debates have been very important, and I think it’s just a broad discussion to present the choice in the election.
O’DONNELL: Sounds like you’re trying to lower expectations now?
SENOR: I’ll tell you that President Obama is a very experienced debater. We saw how he did in 2008, and Vice President Biden, I would say, is one of the most experienced debaters in national politics. He’s been doing this for decades. He’s run for president a few times. So these are very accomplished, experienced men on the debate stage.
ROSE: Your expertise is foreign policy. You’re traveling with the vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. What is the single biggest difference on foreign policy between Gov. Romney and President Obama?
SENOR: I would say the biggest crisis facing the United States from a national security standpoint is Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability. Tragically, the Obama administration really wasted the first couple of years of its administration on a failed strategy to isolate Iran to ramp up economic pressure.
ROSE: If Gov. Romney is elected president, what’s the first thing he would do about Iran and its effort to have a nuclear capacity?
SENOR: I would say first of all, what he would not have done is waste as much time as the Obama administration did.
ROSE: But the campaign is about what he would do, not what he wouldn’t do, as you know. It’s about the future.
SENOR: Absolutely. So he would not have wasted the time that the administration did—
ROSE: What would he do?
SENOR: He would ramp up economic pressure in Iran—
ROSE: What economic pressure that is not ramped up would he use?
SENOR: Tougher, there are much tougher sanctions that Congress has been advocating for—
SENOR: The administration has been resistant to some of these sanctions, to not giving waivers to certain financial institutions around the world. So Congress has passed tough sanctions against Iran. There are waivers in those sanctions. The administration has used these waivers too much to let people get out of these sanctions. He would also—this is very important here—we do not advocate military action against Iran. It should be the option of last resort. However, what the administration has done is broadcast to Tehran, to the mullahs in Tehran, that the military option is the absolute one thing America doesn’t want anybody to do. So the threat of military action is not credible. We need to ramp up economic pressure, increase diplomatic isolation and make the threat of military action credible. But it’s not just Iran. We’re watching right now the whole region unravel. You look at 20,000 innocent civilians dead in Syria. You look at Iran getting closer to a nuclear bomb. You see Salafists and extremists storming our embassies. There’s a sense—
ROSE: What would the nominee for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, do in Syria that’s not being done today?
SENOR: I think that’s an important question, because you got to take all these countries one by one. On Syria, it’s been over a year since the President said Bashar al-Assad must go. Bashar al-Assad is still in power. America looks impotent in the region. President Romney would look to do more to help the opposition movement on the ground in Syria, working with our allies like the Turks, like the Saudis, like the Qataris, to get the opposition more training, more resources, more weapons, really coordinate the effort and would not have dragged its feet as long as we have to give the opposition assistance. They’ve been calling out for American leadership for a long time. This is in America’s national security interest. Bashar al-Assad is Tehran’s closest ally, and Assad falling would be a strategic blow to Iran.
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