Foreign Policy Issues in Election Campaigns

May 27, 1964

Report Outline
Partisan Maneuvering on Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy Debates in Past Campaigns
Development of Bipartisan Foreign Policy

Partisan Maneuvering on Foreign Policy

Partisan politics is likely to start rather than stop 1 at the water's edge during the 1984 presidential election campaign. Judging from statements made in state presidential primary campaigns, foreign policy is emerging as the principal issue dividing Democrats and Republicans as they prepare for the summer nominating conventions. Foreign policy is a particularly attractive issue for the Republicans. Because Democrats were in control when the United States got into both world wars and the Korean War—and are in control now when the country is becoming increasingly involved in the struggle in South Viet Nam—the G.O.P. tends to think it can do a better job of keeping or restoring the peace.

Both parties recognize, however, that bitter wrangling over foreign policy may disturb the country's allies and encourage its adversaries. Former President Truman referred to this possibility when he warned, May 1, that “loose talk” about foreign policy in the autumn election campaign “could sacrifice our national interest for the sake of narrow partisan political advantage.”

President Johnson, hoping for election to a four-year term on Nov. 3, obviously shares Truman's concern. The President said at a news conference, April 23, that he didn't want foreign policy “to develop into a partisan knock-down, drag-out” and that he intended “to do all I can to avoid it.” Three weeks earlier, on April 3, Johnson had made it difficult for Republicans to use the controversy with Panama as a campaign issue. He did so by naming a former Republican Secretary of the Treasury, Robert B. Anderson, as special ambassador to conduct bilateral talks on matters at issue between the two countries.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
Feb. 03, 2012  Presidential Election
Jan. 30, 2009  The Obama Presidency
Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
Jul. 18, 2008  Race and Politics
Apr. 20, 2007  Electing the President
Dec. 30, 1988  Promises vs. Problems
Jul. 10, 1987  Presidential Nomination Process
Feb. 03, 1984  Choosing Presidential Nominees
Jun. 06, 1980  Choosing Presidential Candidates
Apr. 09, 1976  Presidential Campaign Coverage
Feb. 23, 1972  Political Conventions
May 27, 1964  Foreign Policy Issues in Election Campaigns
Sep. 21, 1960  Voting in 1960
Jan. 06, 1960  Presidential Primaries, 1960
Jan. 04, 1956  Campaign Smearing
Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
May 09, 1952  Open Conventions
Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
Sep. 03, 1927  Presidential Candidates—1928
Jun. 14, 1927  Patronage Influence in Nominating Conventions
Sep. 11, 1926  The Future of the Direct Primary
Jul. 02, 1924  Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods
Jun. 04, 1924  The Machinery of the Political Conventions
Mar. 15, 1924  Presidential Candidates and the Issues
Sep. 05, 1923  The Passing of the Second Term
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