With President Barack Obama by many accounts emerging as the winner in the third and final presidential debate Monday, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) took to the radio shows Tuesday to defend Mitt Romney's performance. But each still allowed that the Republican presidential nominee could have pushed harder on particular points of foreign policy.
Speaking to Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade Tuesday, West trumpeted an alternative approach to the U.S. strategy in Iraq rather than what was articulated by either candidate during the debate, and faulted Romney for not making the same case.
"What General [Lloyd] Austin wants to do is to leave a residual force to put on the border between Iraq and Iran, to put on the border between Syria and Iraq and then also be there to provide assistance to our allies, the Kurdish people," West said. "And that's what [Romney] should have been able to explain last night and that's what -- you have to be able to give this strategic thinking, this strategic vision."
Sununu also said that Romney should have capitalized on the issue of leaving a small force on the ground in Iraq, instead of effecting a complete withdrawal.
"What probably didn't get enough play last night -- although [Romney] talked about it -- was the failure of this president to get a status of forces agreement in Iraq, which would have allowed us to leave some group of Americans there to help guide Iraq as it goes through this long-term internal transition," Sununu told Kilmeade Tuesday. "And basically, he didn't use the term, but I'll use it -- the president, in failing to get that status of forces agreement, in essence cut and run from Iraq."
West also tacked back to a point that many conservatives have harped on for weeks now -- the administration's shifting position on what happened in the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"You should have just asked a simple question: 'If we had drones up, giving you real time live-feed information, what was your assessment from that real-time, live-feed information?'" West said, as if participating in Romney's place. "'Then why did you send out Ambassador Rice, why did you continue to talk about a video when you knew that it had nothing to do with that? And why did we have an ambassador in an area that really still is a combat zone?'"
When asked by Kilmeade to speculate as to why Romney didn't bring up some more detailed policy points -- namely, West noted, the fact that the U.S. continues to let Iranian planes fly through Iraqi airspace on their way to help President Bashar al-Assad in Syria -- West suggested that it required a stronger degree of experience on foreign policy.
"I guess it comes back to a level of understanding, experience and knowledge," West said. "I've been on the ground in that part of the world, and you know -- being on the Armed Services Committee ... I know these individuals. I know how they think and I know why they think about these types of things."
Monday night, several conservative pundits expressed concern on Twitter that Romney was not attacking Obama's policies as much as they would have liked.
As Joshua Hersh noted in a piece for HuffPost, Monday's debate gave off the impression that "voters won't have two competing foreign policies to choose from at the ballot box, at least among the major parties."
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