Mitt Romney gaining on President Obama in foreign policy, poll shows

Mitt Romney has shrunk President Obama’s advantage on foreign policy, according to a Pew Research Center survey published on Thursday, pulling within 4 points of the incumbent after trailing by 15 last month.

In the poll of 1,201 registered voters, 47 percent said Obama can do a better job making wise foreign policy decisions, while 43 percent said Romney can do better. Obama led by 1 on Iran and 5 on Egypt and Libya, but Romney claimed a 9-point edge on China.

The survey was conducted Oct. 4-7, between the two presidential debates and at a time when Romney intensified his criticism of Obama’s response to a Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans.

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The Obama administration initially said the siege began as a spontaneous protest to a video produced in California that mocks Islam but later said the attack was an orchestrated terror plot. Romney and other Republicans have suggested the administration deliberately misled the public because the terrorist attack undermined claims of progress in the war on terror.

The Pew survey also showed that optimism about the results of the Arab Spring is waning. Only 25 percent now believe changes in political leadership will lead to lasting improvements and just 14 percent say the changes will be good for the United States. In April 2011, 42 percent anticipated lasting improvements, and 24 percent said the changes would benefit the United States.