“I think [Romney] stacks up very well because he has the same instincts on America’s role in the world as Ronald Reagan did, who came to the presidency after being governor of California,” McCain said on NBC’s "Today" show. “So Mitt understands the need for American leadership; he understands that this president is leading from behind.”


In what his campaign billed as a major foreign-policy address on Monday, Romney accused President Obama of a lack of leadership on the global stage in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., adding that the world is worse off in the Middle East than when Obama took office.

Democrats, led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said that Romney’s ideas amounted to nothing more than “chest-thumping,” and that he offered no new ideas on how he would handle turmoil in the Middle East.

“I’m a professor, and if one of my students turned it in they’d get a C, because he gave absolutely no specifics,” Albright said of Romney’s speech.

McCain on Tuesday said Romney outlined clear differences between how the president handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how he would’ve addressed unrest in Israel and Syria.

“Iraq: We should have left a residual force there and now al Qaeda is back returning and the resurgence is there,” he said. “In Afghanistan, Mitt Romney would have listened to the advice of our military leaders, but instead [Obama] decided on his own to withdraw early and often and we are now in a very serious situation there.

“As far as Israel and the Palestinians are concerned, there’s been no progress whatsoever because Obama called for preconditions and a settlement freeze by the Israelis,” continued McCain. "In Syria, the president until recently wouldn’t even speak up for the people who are fighting and dying under Bashar al Assad.”

President Obama’s campaign believes that foreign policy, a traditional Republican strength, can tip in their favor this election, buoyed by the death of Osama bin Laden and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans hope that Romney can put the president on the defensive on foreign policy, using the recent attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as an entry into a wider critique of the president.

The final two presidential debates are set to feature a substantial discussion on the matter.

“The president says that wars in the Middle East are receding, that the tide of war is receding — well, what’s receding in the Middle East is American leadership,” McCain said. “America’s role in the world has been one of retreat and disarray.”