Because of the unpopularity of Bush and Cheney, Romney has kept his distance — never appearing publicly with either man during his 2012 campaign. Though both leaders are admired by many in the Republican Party base, any perception of closeness with Romney could be harmful as the unofficial Republican nominee seeks to draw in independent and moderate voters.
Indeed, it seems that Romney has been playing a double game this campaign season in an effort to draw away any attention to his neocon-inspired foreign policy. In public, he either chooses to ignore national security issues or he and his advisers don’t distinguish the presumptive GOP nominee’s foreign policy from President Obama’s too much.
Behind the scenes, however, it’s quite a different story. As Bush administration Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell noted recently, Romney’s foreign policy advisers “are quite far to the right.” Many of them advocated for the Iraq war and now want war with Iran.
And the ones who want war reportedly have Romney’s ear as one top Republican operative told Reuters recently that the moderate camp inside Romney’s foreign policy team “are very concerned about the fact that if Romney needs to call anyone, his instinct is to call the Cheney-ites.” Another Romney aide, Vin Weber — who has received scrutiny for lobbying for countries with poor human rights records — told the Washington Post that “it’s inevitable” that the Bush-Cheney alumni advising Romney on foreign policy are going to “have some influence.”
Cheney praised Romney last night as the “only” candidate to make what he thinks are the right foreign policy decisions as commander-in-chief. In fact, Romney shares Cheney’s views on a number of national security issues, as Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) observed in an article in Foreign Policy yesterday: “A Romney presidency promises to take us back to something all too familiar: a Bush-Cheney doctrine — equal parts naïve and cavalier — which eagerly embraces military force without fully considering the consequences.”