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Tue October 23, 2012
What Obama And Romney Didn't Say At The Foreign Policy Debate
The elephants not in the room at Monday night's final presidential debate at Lynn University?
Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers.
President Obama and Mitt Romney barely touched on our own hemisphere, sticking mostly to the Middle East and China in a debate that may be most remembered here for what wasn't discussed.
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) said he was taken aback by the lack of substantive discussion on issues like Cuba and Venezuela. "I was surprised that there wasn't a whole section focused on Latin America," said Deutch.
He said the moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, was partly to blame. But Deutch defended President Obama's policies, even if he didn't directly address them. "I think his record speaks for itself," said Deutch. "The President's call for immigration reform will help us with our allies in Latin America."
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami), who serves as chair of the powerful U.S. House Committeeon Foreign Affairs was quick to point out that Romney was the only candidate to go out of his way to mention the region when talking trade. "He said he wants to expand trade with our Democratic partners in Latin America, and that we always talk about expanding trade way across the globe, but herewe are in our own area, and we don't do enough for it," said Ros-Lehtinen.State Representative Jose Felix Diaz (R-Miami) said both candidates dropped the ball, even if the subject was not brought up directly because "at some point they should have reached out and mentioned the glaring omission... Spending as much time as they did on the Middle East and China I think was a mistake, and something that hopefully won't come back in this presidential campaign and bite any of the candidates."
Former Democratic South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, an early Obama backer in 2008--and now president of the Washington-based think tank The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, believed the oversight may have actually been a good thing.
"The trouble spots are elsewhere in the world for the most part," said Wexler. "The focus is on the Middle East, it's on Afghanistan, it's on Iraq, it's on China. But certainly Latin America is essential to the Florida economy and the US economy on a whole"
The lack of hemispheric discussion was especially ironic on a night when Schieffer opened the debate remembering the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
While the discussion focused on the tens-of-thousands of lives lost in Syria, nothing was mentioned about the tens-of-thousands of lives lost in the Mexican drug wars right across our borders.
At least Latin America got mentioned.
But Haiti -- the still-earthquake-ravaged and politically unstable country with humanitarian issue of our time and hemisphere -- what of Haiti?
Not even a word on that.
The Florida Roundup