A Pew Research survey released on Wednesday showed that President Barack Obama’s popularity has reached record lows among Muslims.
The same day, the president’s re-election campaign charged that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s foreign policy experts will reduce the nation’s popularity in the Muslim-majority countries.
“Romney has rejected the counsel of mainstream foreign policy experts and surrounded himself with the same people who weakened America’s standing in the world over the last decade,” Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement.
Kanner’s remark signals a revival of the campaign theme used in 2008 to attack Sen. John McCain, who supported George W. Bush’s Iraq War policy.
The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes survey found the approval of Obama’s policies in Muslim-majority countries plummeted from an average 34 percent to 15 percent. In Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed, approval is the lowest — coming in at 7 percent. Muslim attitudes toward America and confidence in Obama also decreased.
More than 26,000 people from 21 countries took part in the survey, taken between March 17 and April 20.
Worldwide approval of Obama has also declined significantly, especially with regards to foreign policy, and overall confidence in Obama and attitudes toward America have declined modestly.
Obama focused much of his early foreign policy on improving what he called America’s global standing, saying in 2008 that he wanted “to go before the world community and say ‘America is back,’” and “send a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says: You matter to us, your future is our future, and our moment is now.”
When selecting Vice President Joe Biden, Obama said he wanted to put an end to failed foreign policy and “renew America’s security and standing in the world.”
But the Pew numbers show that even in Europe, approval of Obama’s policies decreased from 78 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2012. European confidence in Obama decreased from 86 to 80 percent, and favorable attitudes toward America decreased from 67 to 60 percent.
Pew’s survey marks a significant turning point from surveys conducted at the end of Obama’s first year. A 2010 Gallup poll found that global approval of the United States’ global leadership increased from 34 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009.
The survey also found more than half the people in 17 of 20 countries disapprove of the use of drone strikes to target extremist leaders and groups, and clear majorities in Britain, Germany, France and Spain say China is the world’s economic leader.
In 2008, before the worldwide financial crisis, 45 percent said the U.S. economy led the world, and only 22 percent said China. Today, only 36 percent say the U.S., and 42 percent believe China’s economy is leading.
Obama for America has thus far remained silent about the recent Pew survey, focusing their attention instead on Romney’s foreign policy.
“Romney and his advisers have repeatedly criticized our allies on the campaign trail — calling Europe a ‘second-tier nation,’ criticizing the British prime minister for political purposes, and labeling Russia our ‘number one geopolitical foe’ — all while failing to lay out a coherent foreign policy agenda and instead embracing the radical views of John Bolton,” Kanner said. “America can’t afford Mitt Romney as commander in chief.”
Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, believes Obama has tried too hard to distinguish his foreign policy from Bush’s.
“When your strategy consists largely of saying, ‘I’m not that guy,’ it’s no wonder it comes out confused and incoherent and incompetent, which is a pretty good description of the Obama foreign policy,” Bolton said on Fox in April.
Bolton signed onto Romney’s foreign policy team in January.
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