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Retail & Tonight's Presidents Foreign Policy Debate

Foreign policy positions and the retail economy

When President Obama and Governor Romney square off this evening in their third and final debate, America anticipates hearing about the candidates' foreign policy positions. At the Minnesota Retailers Association, we expect this debate to be as much about retail and our economy as foreign policy. Both candidates understand the need to tie the U.S. economy directly to their international policies and proposals in order to connect the dots for the undecided voter. 
Here are the alignments we expect to see between foreign policy positions and retail/the economy:

President Barack Obama
To be re-elected, President Obama needs to continue to credit his policies with what he has often called "signs of an improving U.S. economy". Tonight he will connect the dots between his foreign policy positions (ranging from the United Nations and Iran, to international trade) to specific improvements in the economy over the past 18 months. Expect the President to reference unemployment declines to woo the middle class and--specific to retail--gains in consumer confidence when talking about his successes. We are likely to see the President piece together things like oil prices and U.S. export activity to help voters directly connect economic improvements to his foreign policy record. President Obama will paint a more optimistic picture of the U.S. economy tonight than he did in first two debates in an effort to help voters feel good about the country's direction.

Governor Mitt Romney
Governor Romney knows that Americans feeling sketchy about our economic future improves his chances of being elected. Romney also knows that U.S. presidents running for re-election during a time of economic underperformance and uncertainty have a difficult time winning the confidence of voters. In addition to hammering away on what he calls soft-at-best economic improvement, Governor Romney may assert that President Obama has lacked a domestic economic focus. He likely will use this to combat any momentum the President may gain in the area of foreign affairs, such as the death of Osama Bin Laden. To overcome his opponent's effort to paint him as an elitist, Romney will look to appeal to the average American by showing an understanding of today's economic pains including retail-centric items like gas prices and consumer spending.

This evening's debate begins at 8:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on most major television networks.

About the Author

Rochelle Westlund

Rochelle Westlund is Director of Government Relations with the Minnesota Retailers Association.

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