Mitt Romney gave his first major foreign policy speech at the Citadel today, and for anti-CCP folks, it was a pleasant surprise. Of course, presidential candidates fortunate enough to be elected have a habit of sounding anti-Communist before Election Day, only to fall into the “engagement” morass soon after the victory party. Still, Romney broke new ground for a top-tier candidate, new and welcome ground.

In previous post-Tiananmen election cycles, incumbents hew the engagement line while challengers rail about economic threats from the CCP. Romney is the first major candidate I remember to go straight to the geopolitical threat. Here’s his first mention of the problem (transcript courtesy of Katrina Trinko – NRO, emphasis added):

China has made it clear that it intends to be a military and economic superpower. Will her rulers lead their people to a new era of freedom and prosperity or will they go down a darker path, intimidating their neighbors, brushing aside an inferior American Navy in the Pacific, and building a global alliance of authoritarian states?

Let me restate for emphasis: no other top-tier candidate for president has ever even noticed, let alone warn of the CCP building an anti-democratic alliance – not one. This is a major step forward for anti-Communists; even most of our prominent allies in Congress are missing this.

Later, Romney reiterated his concerns about the world with a list of ” a handful of major forces that vie with America and free nations, to shape the world in an image of their choosing . . . determined, powerful forces that may threaten freedom, prosperity, and America’s national interests” – and the Chinese regime made the list.

This is not to say it was a perfect speech. When Romney talked about what he would do as president, East Asia was not specifically mentioned. India was never mentioned at all, a glaring faux pas on several levels.

Still, Romney has given hope to anti-Communists everywhere that he at least understands better than anyone else how dangerous the Chinese Communist Party is to the democratic world. If that is maintained by Romney as GOP nominee (if he is to be that), it could be one of the surprise issues of the 2012 campaign; if President Romney (if he is to be that) turns it into policy, it could dramatically halt the CCP’s global march, and perhaps even hasten its demise.

I once thought I could never be able to support Romney’s bid for nomination. I can’t say that anymore after today.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal and Bearing Drift