Tragedy in Afghanistan: A Foreign Policy Booster for Romney?

If foreign policy plays a bigger role in the GOP campaign, which candidate will it help?

Following the tragic death of 16 civilians in Afghanistan last week -- most of whom were children, and all of whom died at the hands of a U.S. soldier on a rampage -- insurgents have wasted no time in moving to retaliation. News of an attack on investigating Afghan officials hit just days later, and the Taliban has promised grave consequences for U.S. personnel still to come. Meanwhile, an attempted attack by an Afghan interpreter, one that may or may not have been aimed at U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and resulted in at least one injury, has tensions in the region running high.

Here in the states, as the circumstances surrounding last week’s tragedy in Afghanistan unfold, foreign policy is taking a front seat in the race for the GOP nomination. Where the economy, freedom of religion and healthcare once took center stage, Americans are increasingly concerned about what the actions of one unauthorized military man can mean for the rest of the world.

In a Thursday morning interview on Fox News GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney told reporters that we must stay the course with the war in Afghanistan saying, he would not change the current draw down timeline based on this one “crazy person” and criticizing any plans President Obama has to withdraw troops later this year as a political ploy to gain popularity running up to the November election.

In an earlier interview on the massacre, the GOP’s other front runner, Rick Santorum, shared similar concerns with CNN, telling reporters there that the president’s timeline has worsened the United States’ position in the war, giving the enemy “hope” where there should be none. But does his apparent agreement with Romney put them on equal footing on foreign affairs?

Though these two presidential hopefuls seem to see eye-to-eye on draw down and Obama’s mishandling of the war in general, that may be where their similarities in foreign policy end. This may, in fact, be one area in which Romney’s moderate track record can secure his base of support. There’s no denying conservative Christians like Santorum, but when it comes to foreign policy Romney’s more balanced approach could just win him the votes -- and concrete support -- he needs to secure enough delegates for the nomination.

Diana Prichard is a red-leaning freelance writer and farmer who lives in a blue state. You can find her on Twitter: @diana_prichard.

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