Posted on Monday, 05 November 2012 15:52

US voters face stark policy choices on election day

In televised debates, presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama sparred over issues from financial regulation to foreign policy. Their views revealed the inward focus of the superpower's election.




What is the role for the US in the tension between Israel and Iran?

Mitt Romney: In Israel in July, Mitt Romney called Iran a "radical theocracy" and "the most destabilising nation in the world". His national security adviser Dan Senor said: "If Israel has to take action on its own, the governor would respect that decision."

Barack Obama favours diplomacy. His defence secretary Leon Panetta said the US would "take whatever steps necessary" to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons. Obama has urged the Israeli government to be patient, but says "time is not unlimited".

How would your government improve immigration policy?

Mitt Romney: "The answer is self-deportation." Romney said that he would veto Obama's DREAM Act, which would give young and undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. He wants to complete a fence with Mexico and reinforce it with a longer one.

Barack Obama: Obama is against making English the official language, but supported the construction of the 1,049km Mexican border fence. While the DREAM Act has been blocked by the Senate, Obama has imposed a de facto deportation moratorium.

What should be the role of the government in regulating financial markets?

Mitt Romney: Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank regulations, which he says are a "kiss" to New York banks. He described Obama's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as "the most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation".

Barack Obama:Obama said Dodd-Frank was designed "to bring the shadowy deals that caused this crisis into the light of day and put a stop to taxpayer bail-outs once and for all". In the 3 October debate, he blamed the crisis on "reckless behaviour across the board".

What remains to be done by the US military in Afghanistan?

Mitt Romney: "Our goal should be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. [...] Our men and women in the field deserve a clear mission, [and] the resources and resolute leadership [...] to complete that mission."

Barack Obama: During the 11 October debate, Vice-President Joe Biden said: "We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we're going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800bn." The State Department is now in talks to extend the troop presence.

How should Washington boost its ties with African allies?

Mitt Romney: Romney's policy proposals include protecting "the victims of war crimes [...] committed by the government in Khartoum and its proxies", encouraging business-friendly environments and strengthening African capacity to fight terrorism and piracy.

Barack Obama: Obama announced a $3bn programme to improve African food security in May, sent Special Forces troops to hunt Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony, and proposed a new Africa policy in June that focuses on trade agreements and fighting Al Qaeda.

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