THE RACE: Politics infuse Obama, Romney speeches

September 25, 2012 - 2:35 PM
Obama 2012

President Barack Obama addresses the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

President Barack Obama had an audience and megaphone that Republican challenger Mitt Romney could only envy: addressing an array of global leaders as the head of the world's largest economic and military power.

It doesn't get much more presidential-appearing than that.

Most U.S. chief executives come to enjoy their time upon the world stage, despite the ever-present laundry list of intractable problems.

They mostly don't have to worry about a contentious Congress and they can ignore, at least for a time, the roar from domestic critics— and turn instead to issues affecting all humankind.

On the other hand, the immediate audience is a group of foreign leaders who can't vote for you and have little influence over the course of American electoral politics.

But as Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the U.S. election six weeks ahead loomed close — both physically and thematically.

Romney, joking that "a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good," spoke at a global forum also in New York sponsored by the former president, an active Obama supporter.

Obama dealt with foreign-policy issues that have cropped up in a U.S. campaign otherwise focused on the economy.

He denounced attacks on U.S. missions in Libya and elsewhere, but also the anti-Muslim video triggering them, calling it "cruel and disgusting" — but constitutionally protected.

Obama said time for diplomacy to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions was running short and boasted of toughest-ever sanctions now in place, indirectly addressing Romney's charge he'd been lax on Iran.

He also denounced "those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace" between Israelis and Palestinians, a dig at Romney's expressions to donors doubting the Palestinian commitment to peace.

Obama later spoke to Clinton's forum while Romney headed to Ohio to join running mate Paul Ryan on a bus tour.

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