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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney Delivers Broad Criticism of Obama on Foreign Policy


FAIRFAX, Va. - Speaking to a modest-sized crowd in Northern Virginia Thursday, Mitt Romney sought to move beyond his criticism of President Obama‘s response to the turmoil in Libya and Egypt and instead broadly paint the president as weak on foreign policy.

“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we're at the mercy of events, instead of shaping events, and a strong America is essential to shape events. And a strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military,” Mr. Romney said at an outdoor rally here. “We have to have a military second to none and that's so strong no one would ever think of testing it.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Romney came under fire by Democrats and Republi cans alike, for seeming to play politics as the crisis was unfolding in the Middle East. Before all of the facts on the ground were known - including the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador to Libya - Mr. Romney's campaign released a statement criticizing the Obama administration for not condemning the attacks and seeming to sympathize with the attackers. (In fact, a statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo came hours before the attacks, in an attempt to quell the tensions, though the embassy later stood by their statement in a Tweet. See a full timeline of events.)

But by Thursday, he seemed eager to move past the developing crisis in the Middle East, instead preferring to allude to the situation only briefly at the beginning of his speech.

“I also recognize that right now we're in mourning,” he said. “We've lost four of our diplomats across the world, we're thinking about their families and th ose that they've left behind.”

At the mere mention of Libya, however, a man in the crowd began shouting: “Why are you politicizing Libya?”

As the crowd shouted the protestor down, Mr. Romney tried to continue, before concluding, “I would offer a moment of silence but one gentleman doesn't want to be silent so we're going to keep on going.”

Mr. Romney implicitly contrasted himself to the president, telling the crowd that he would stand up for United States interests abroad.

“The world needs American leadership, the Middle East needs American leadership,” Mr. Romney said. “And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”

Launching into a more typical attack on the president, Mr. Romney criticized him for cutting defense spending.

“This president has done something I find very hard to understand,” Mr. Romney said. “Ever since F.D.R., we've had the capacity to be engaged in two conflicts at once. And he's saying, ‘No we're going to cut that back to only one conflict.' And so he's put in place cuts of almost a trillion dollars, with his budget cuts and the sequestration cuts we'll have almost a trillion dollars of cuts to our military.”

He added: “If I'm president of the United States we will restore our military commitment and keep America the strongest military in the world.”