(CNN) – Mitt Romney sought to bolster his foreign policy credentials Tuesday, stressing his plan to strengthen aid to developing markets overseas through free enterprise and trade.
"The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America's own economy," Romney said at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
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The annual event, established in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, features discussions and programs on how to improve conditions for girls and women, spur development, and better global health and technology. President Barack Obama will also address the gathering later Tuesday.
Romney argued his plan, which he calls the "Prosperity Pact," is a break from past policies. The guidelines state that the U.S. would provide aid to developing countries that remove barriers to investment and trade.
"I've laid out a new approach for a new era," Romney said. "We'll couple aid with trade and private investment to empower individuals, encourage innovators, and reward entrepreneurs."
While Romney acknowledged the growth of microfinance systems–the practice of granting small loans to individuals or groups in impoverished countries–the Republican nominee's campaign said in a separate memo that microloans are only a "poverty alleviation strategy" and called for a "much greater focus" for small and medium-sized businesses that are too big for microfinance.
Romney also took the opportunity to bring up the recent unrest in the Middle East, including the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens two weeks ago.
"Religious extremism is certainly part of the problem," Romney said "But that's not the whole story."
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Citing the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire and sparked the Arab Spring, Romney said the vendor who was humiliated by government forces wanted to provide for his family.
The freedom of an individual to work, Romney said, is at the core of his foreign aid plan.
"Work. That must be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs for people, young and old alike," Romney said.
Romney's comments come a day after the White House hopeful railed the incumbent president over foreign policy, particularly Obama's handling of tension in the Middle East and other Arab nations.
Romney used a campaign stop in the battleground state of Colorado to question Obama's comments in a recent interview during which the president said recent unrest in Libya would not prevent the country from developing a functioning government that adequately represents its people.
"I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance," Obama said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview Sunday. "But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam."
Romney said Obama's comments belittled the gravity of the situation defined by the armed militant assault on the consulate.
"These are not bumps in the road, these are human lives," Romney said in Pueblo. "These are developments we do not want to see."
– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
The Real Truth- But you approve of the president spiking the football 50 times in regard to Bin Ladin just to further his political cause. DOUBLE STANDARD!
One is celebrating the death of a mass murderer, the other is using the death of our ambassador to score cheap shots: explain how that is spiking the ball? Considering that your side questioned that he was really dead, how can you even bother making the comparison?
Sounds to me like Romney's suggesting investing in foreign markets to the benefit of the business world. If businesses wish to invest their own money into creating a better atmosphere, go for it. Why are conservatives so happy to spend money outside the US? You guys want to fund projects in the middle east, but can't fix a school in Detroit.
this man and his family has been lying , cheating and scaming people for a living
Romney's aid with trade is just another way of saying we'll outsource more American jobs and reduce foreign aid so I can give the money to myself and my rich friends like Shelly Adelson and Donald Trump in the form of even bigger tax cuts. The Romney-Ryan tax cut plan makes the Bush tax cuts look like pimples on an elephant's butt.
While the chances are very remote, if Romney gets elected the only major change in his foreign policy would be sending jobs overseas while we settle for nor jobs or menial jobs here.
Conservatives try to make every election about being "for big government" or being "for business and economic growth." Believe me when I tell you that being "for business and economic growth" is just a dog whistle for "we line the pockets of the rich." But, that is not what I really wanted to say.
Democrats don't speak in codes. Elecitons should be "for The People", not "for business". That is choice, folks.
Listen you poor nations! If you want aid, you have to do what we say!
It's not a bad sentiment, just naive for him to think that such a coupling wouldn't really just amount to creating a rule made to be broken.
Let me say this on the voucher plan in Iowa we have already such a plan. It for dental BUT here is my point they give you 10.000 dollars for it. And It does well. Romney wants to give you even less for his medical voucher and everyone knows medical is 4 times if not more than dental. There will be so much coming outta your pocket than your credit card. But Dont Believe me check for yourself its called Iowacare
@Ancient Texan – The Real Truth- But you approve of the president spiking the football 50 times in regard to Bin Ladin just to further his political cause. DOUBLE STANDARD!
Absolutely I approve... double standard or not. OBL was the leader of a TERRORIST organization, and not an American Ambassador. BIG DIFF IMHO... but then, you righties are content to put your own spin on anything that doesn't look the way you want it to, including revisionist versions of history...
We call our leader "Prime Minister Harper" . Mr.OBAMA or Obama is disrespectful.