July 24, 2007

Presidential Candidates’ Foreign Policy Surrogates Argue Next President Needs to Strengthen America’s Global Engagement

Republican and Democratic Members of Congress, Foreign Policy Experts Featured at “Building a Better, Safer World” Conference

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today the Center for U.S. Global Engagement hosted a first-of-its-kind panel featuring Members of Congress and senior foreign policy advisers as surrogates for their respective 2008 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The surrogates put forward their candidates’ visions on U.S. foreign policy, and most said the next President needs to strengthen the foreign assistance and diplomatic tools for global engagement.

The conference came on the eve of the launch of Impact ’08: Building a Better, Safer World, the Center’s new national campaign urging the presidential candidates to support greater investments in development and diplomacy as a keystone of America’s national security and foreign policy.

Notable Quotes from Presidential Campaign ’08 DEMOCRATIC Foreign Policy Roundtable Discussion:

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), as surrogate for Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign, said, “Senator Clinton thinks that, by investing our resources smartly, lifting people out of poverty is not only the right thing to do morally, but it is also the right thing to do for our self-interest. It is absolutely in our security interest to try and tackle the world’s biggest problems.”

For Senator John Edwards’ campaign, surrogate Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) said, “All around the world, poverty is crushing. If we wish to solve this crisis, we have to lead in the world in the way that the Bush Administration has not done – with smart power, working with our allies to improve lives using all of the foreign policy tools we’ve got.”

For Senator Barack Obama’s campaign, surrogate Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) argued that there is a compelling moral argument for the United States to increase foreign assistance. “It’s wrong that people are suffering while we have the means to stop it. It’s wrong that there are 2 billion people living on less than two dollars a day.” Smith added, “The next Secretary of State will have the toughest job I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), as surrogate for Senator Christopher Dodd’s campaign, underscored the imbalances between U.S. military and foreign assistance budgets. “Senator Dodd was the first person to set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and as President he would take those funds and go around the world and make investments in development and diplomacy.”

Governor Bill Richardson campaign surrogate Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) highlighted global warming as a critical challenge that requires strong international diplomacy and cooperation. “Global warming is a huge issue and it will affect poor people first. Governor Richardson would join an international pact on the issue,” said Udall.

As surrogate for Senator Joseph Biden’s campaign, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Majority Staff Director Tony Blinken stressed that foreign policy experience matters for the next President. “There’s a leadership aspect here. You have to be able to get the job done. In the case of this election…it is about a practical track record, the ability to engage politically.”

Notable Quotes from Presidential Campaign ’08 REPUBLICAN Foreign Policy Surrogates’ Roundtable discussion:

As surrogate for Senator John McCain’s campaign, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) articulated three ways in which McCain, if elected president, would elevate development and diplomacy. “First, he would create a league of democracies that can keep America safe by partnering in global civility. Second, he would promote economic opportunity for all via micro-lending to economically isolated people,” Lungren said. “He would also ensure that the United States do a better job of articulating its ideas.”

Representing Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, surrogate Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said, “Rudy Giuliani does support the Millennium Development Goals. It does depend on what the budget constraints are, but he’s committing to doing what has to be done, working with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and getting the various government departments to work together to encourage pro-growth policies.”

Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), surrogate for Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, said, “We must strive to identify a vision of how we want to engage the rest of the world from a policy of strength….Governor Romney is going to take a look at seeing where we’re going to be spending foreign assistance dollars and make sure that we’re getting the kind of results that we believe are necessary.”

The presidential surrogates’ foreign policy debate was preceded by panels featuring the top Bush Administration officials in charge of U.S. foreign assistance, Undersecretary of State and acting USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore; Ambassador Mark R. Dybul, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); and Ambassador John J. Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Leading journalists covering foreign affairs also shared their views on the foreign policy challenges facing the next President, and spoke about the need to restore America’s global image. Joining the discussion were David Brooks of The New York Times, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, and Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal, with Eric Weiner of National Public Radio as the moderator.

The Center for U.S. Global Engagement, the educational arm of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, unites business, foreign policy, humanitarian, faith-based, community and military leaders around the country for broader public understanding of America’s interests in building a better, safer world.

Video footage from the conference as well as more information on the Center and the Impact ’08: Building a Better, Safer World campaign is available at www.usglobalengagement.org