Scary Iran and Paul’s Austrian fetish: Iowa speech highlights

It was an unexpected late-night nail-biter in Iowa last night, as Mitt Romney barely edged out Rick Santorum. Santorum kept things pretty domestic in what was essentially an introduction speech to a national audience that hasn’t heard much from him yet. (No shout-outs to Porfirio Lobo sadly.) Mitt Romney, on the other hand, came out ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
632359_romney_91.jpg
632359_romney_91.jpg
Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney his wife Ann Romney and their family hold a campaign rally with supporters at the Hotel Fort Des Moines on the night of the Iowa Caucuses January 3, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. Going into Tuesday's "first in the nation" caucuses, statewide polls showed Romney with a very slim lead over fellow presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and former U.S. Sentaor Rick Santorum beginning a late surge.

It was an unexpected late-night nail-biter in Iowa last night, as Mitt Romney barely edged out Rick Santorum. Santorum kept things pretty domestic in what was essentially an introduction speech to a national audience that hasn't heard much from him yet. (No shout-outs to Porfirio Lobo sadly.) Mitt Romney, on the other hand, came out swinging against Barack Obama and began an occasionally rambling speech not with jobs or the economy but with Iran:

“We face an extraordinary challenge in America and you know that, and that is internationally, Iran is about to have nuclear weaponry, just down the road here, and this president, what's he done in that regard? He said he'd have a policy of engagement. How's that worked out?”

Romney may want to give a read to Scott Clement's recent column, which makes a convincing case the Republican voters are a lot less concerned about Iran than their candidates. 

It was an unexpected late-night nail-biter in Iowa last night, as Mitt Romney barely edged out Rick Santorum. Santorum kept things pretty domestic in what was essentially an introduction speech to a national audience that hasn’t heard much from him yet. (No shout-outs to Porfirio Lobo sadly.) Mitt Romney, on the other hand, came out swinging against Barack Obama and began an occasionally rambling speech not with jobs or the economy but with Iran:

“We face an extraordinary challenge in America and you know that, and that is internationally, Iran is about to have nuclear weaponry, just down the road here, and this president, what’s he done in that regard? He said he’d have a policy of engagement. How’s that worked out?”

Romney may want to give a read to Scott Clement’s recent column, which makes a convincing case the Republican voters are a lot less concerned about Iran than their candidates. 

Before laying into the "Massachusetts moderate," Newt Gingrich also took the oppurtunity to lay into third-place finisher Ron Paul:

“His views on foreign policy, I think, are stunningly dangerous for survival of the United States and I think it’s a very simple question which I would be glad to ask Congressman Paul: if you have a terrorist who’s prepared to put on a bomb and wear it as a vest and walk into a grocery store or a mall or bus and blow themselves up as long as they can kill you, why would you think that if they can get access to a nuclear weapon they wouldn’t use it?” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also said Romney might be "pretty good at managing the decay," echoing a common line of criticism of President Obama which argues that he has embraced the inevitability of American decline. 

Then there was Ron Paul. While some candidates may use "European" as an epithet for ideas they don’t like, Paul seems perfectly comfortable pledging his allegiance to long-dead European economists

And also, along those lines, what we have introduced with so much enthusiasm I hear so often from so many volunteers — The other day someone came up to me and he was refreshing my memory because he knew I – knew the statement because I’ve said it.

Back in the old days in the early 70s, Nixon said we’re all Keynesians now, which meant that even the Republicans accepted liberal economics. He says I’m waiting for the day when we can say we’re all Austrians now.

Paul is referring to the Austrian school of economics, which included free-market luminaries Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, but I’m guessing that the reference confused an awful lot of voters who aren’t hard-core Paul supporters and brought to mind John McCain’s "Today, we’re all Georgians" speech. I’m just not sure most Americans particularly want to be Austrians. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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