The final debate of the season wound down with plenty of barbs, the candidates starting to look punch-drunk after a four and a half hours of trying to make each other look bad (or was that just me?). While they found plenty of time to accuse each other of lying, especially about whether Romney wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, Mitt did find a way to sneak one untruth in there that wasn’t so much a lie as plain goofy inaccuracy.
Talking about the importance of Syria to the Middle East, he said:
“Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.”
As you can see, Iran doesn’t exactly need a “route to the sea.” It’s got plenty of coastline. And if it was looking for another “route to the sea,” Iraq and Turkey totally cock-blocking Syria, making that an especially crappy route.
At first blush this looks like a straight geography gaffe that qualifies as Romney’s Sarah Palin moment. But this is actually not the first time he’s used the phrase—he used it in several interviews last year as well as a primary debate this year. It’s been brought to his attention that Syria is not Iran’s “route to the sea,” and he keeps using it.
The Romney campaign told the Washington Post this spring “It is generally recognized that Syria offers Iran strategic basing/staging access to the Mediterranean as well as to terrorist proxies in the Levant. This is a large reason why Iran invests so much in Syria.” But this still isn’t a “route to the sea.”
Obama told Romney last night that if you’re going to talk foreign policy you’ve got to be specific. This appears to be one place Romney could use some specificity. But hey, he’s been repeating the line for a year now—at least it’s one place he’s being consistent, amiright?