Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined Tuesday an assertive American nationalism that would guide his foreign policy, calling for a more aggressive posture in confronting the United States’ rivals and more consistency in dealing with its allies.
Romney advisers had billed the half-hour speech before the
Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention here as a major foreign
policy address, one his campaign originally said he intended to give months ago.
The presumptive GOP nominee has spoken little about foreign policy
recently, but on Tuesday he did so sharply on an issue generally
considered a strength of President Obama’s.
He said he plans to refrain from criticizing the American president,
Romney accused Obama of misjudging Russia, failing to contain Iran’s
nuclear ambitions, coddling China, offending Israel and jeopardizing the
U.S. military with budget cuts that Republican congressional leaders
The address, delivered with vigor, did not
highlight the kind of specific policy approaches that Obama campaign
advisers have called on Romney to present. At one point, Romney even
endorsed Obama’s plan for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan by
the end of 2014, a timeline he once criticized. He also detailed an
approach to Iran’s nuclear program virtually identical to Obama’s.
the address was long on the soaring language of American
exceptionalism, and it echoed in places his campaign’s seminal foreign
policy address, which he delivered last year at the Citadel. There, he called for a new “American century,” and he did so again in Reno before a largely receptive audience.
The lofty appeal to a mid-20th-century view of U.S. power stood in sharp contrast to Obama’s more calculated, realist approach to diplomacy. A Washington Post-ABC
News poll published in May found that 48 percent of Americans supported
Obama’s handling of foreign affairs, while 46 percent did not.“I
am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country,” Romney
told the audience to applause. “I am not ashamed of American power.”
the economy ailing, the Obama campaign has often presented the
president’s foreign policy record as a proxy of leadership and
His advisers have argued that he has been successful
in restoring the nation’s image as a reliable global player,
reinvigorating alliances neglected by his predecessor and engaging
traditional antagonists. His winding down of two inherited wars — and
the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden — have been celebrated in campaign advertising and on the trail.
widely accepted that President Obama has an exceptionally strong record
on national security issues,” Robert Gibbs, a former Obama White House
press secretary who is now a senior campaign adviser, told reporters
Monday in a conference call.
“And I think, quite frankly, that
Mitt Romney is having a rather tough time making an argument against the
president of the United States on these issues,” he sRomney told the VFW audience, which heard from Obama the previous day,
that “the last few years have been a time of declining influence and
missed opportunity.” He used words such as “diminished,” “devastation,”
“faltered,” “misjudgment” and “abandonment” to describe the president’s
Romney described a country that has lost its way under Obama and
warned that impending defense cuts, demanded by the agreement last year
to raise the borrowing limit, could threaten national security.
also criticized the leaks of classified material — about drone
operations and the raid that killed bin Laden — that has appeared in
various books, magazines and newspapers. He called on Obama to allow a
“special counsel” to investigate the leaks, which he said were made to
benefit Obama’s campaign.
“What kind of White House would reveal
classified material for political gain?” Romney said. “I’ll tell you
right now: Mine won’t.”
Aboard Air Force One, White House press
secretary Jay Carney referred questions about Romney’s accusation to the
federal prosecutors investigating the matter. He said the president has
made it “abundantly clear” that he has no tolerance for leaks, which he
said are damaging to national security.
Romney will leave
Wednesday for a tour of England, Israel and Poland, and his itinerary
helps illustrate the critique of Obama’s foreign policies that he
After beginning in London, where he will attend the Olympic Games, Romney is scheduled to head to Israel.
Obama has increased U.S. military aid to Israel and cooperated in the building of Israel’s missile-defense system, Iron Dome.
the president has had a tense relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, particularly over Israel’s settlement construction on land
that Palestinians consider their future state.
Romney is likely to
offer a clear contrast. But how the Republican, who during a forum last
year played down a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, intends to speak about the conflict is unclear and may test
his diplomatic fluency on a core issue.
In his speech, he said
Obama is “fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders.” But, he said, “the people
of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader
of the free world.”
Iran probably will be the chief point of
interest when Romney meets Netanyahu, whom he has known since the the
mid-1970s, when they became friends as colleagues at the Boston
“There is no greater danger in the world today
than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons
capability,” Romney said. “Yet for all the talk and conferences, all
the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this
danger now than four years ago?”
The solution he outlined, though,
mirrors Obama’s approach — a series of strict sanctions “cutting off
the regime’s source of wealth,” negotiations and access for nuclear
inspectors. Obama has declined to rule out a military strike.
last stop will be Poland, which, along with the Czech Republic, he used
Tuesday as an example of Obama’s “abandonment of friends” because soon
after taking office, the president reconfigured a George W. Bush-era
missile-defense system to be based there.
Obama said the changes
made the system more effective in stopping potential missile attacks
from Iran or North Korea. At the same time, it was also more acceptable
to Russia, which American hawks criticized as a sign of weakness toward a
country whose ambitions are still suspect in the region.
past characterization of Russia as the United States’ “No. 1
geopolitical foe” also has drawn criticism from the Obama campaign,
namely Vice President Biden, who has accused Romney of being trapped in a
Cold War mentality.
I'll vote for President Romney because he's our
only hope in taking America back from the lazy, self/absorbed, libbies
who don't love our country