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Monday, October 8, 2012

Obama Campaign Hits Back on Romney Foreign Policy Speech


KEENE, Calif. - The Obama campaign hit back aggressively on Monday at Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama has not led on foreign policy, accusing him of an “erratic, unsteady and irresponsible” national security strategy that could endanger the United States and alienate allies.

Responding to Mr. Romney's foreign policy speech at Virginia Military Institute on Monday morning, Obama campaign surrogates were quick to take to the airwaves, e-mail and telephone lines to fire back as part of their effort to maintain what is widely viewed as a rare Democratic lead on national security issues in an election year.

“Full of platitude and free of substance,” former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said in  a teleconference call organized by the Obama campaign to rebut Mr. Romney's speech.

“How's he going to turn the page on the failed policies in Iraq if he wants to k eep 20,000 troops in Iraq?” added Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman.

“His position on Libya has no credibility since he's been both for and against our Libya policy,” wrote Michèle Flournoy and Colin Kahl, Obama foreign policy advisers, in a memo to reporters.

At an appearance to dedicate a memorial to Cesar Chavez, the farm labor movement hero, out here in the middle of the California high desert, the president himself eschewed wading into the fray, limiting the political portion of his remarks commemorating Mr. Chavez to a mild “si se puede,” or “Yes, we can” in Spanish.

(The supposedly politics-free Chavez dedication was anything but, however. The mostly Hispanic and Latino attendees chanted “Four More Years” and one even thrust a miniature stuffed Big Bird in front of Mr. Obama when he was working the rope line afterward, in a reference to Mr. Romney's assertion  during last week's debate that he would cut government money for PBS.)

Mr. Obama headed afterward to San Francisco for high-dollar fund-raisers later Monday evening, and aides said that the president would be sure to add his two cents to the Romney foreign policy bashing then.

The Obama campaign appears eager to engage in foreign policy in the remaining weeks of the campaign, since campaign aides have long believed that Mr. Obama's record - which includes the killing of Osama bin Laden, the ending of the Iraq War, the announcement of a timeline to withdraw from Afghanistan, the toppling of the Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi and a wariness to engage militarily in the myriad conflicts under way in the Middle East - are all far more in keeping with where the American public is now than Mr. Romney's positions are.

The next three debates - two for Mssrs. Obama and Romney and one for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Paul D. Ryan - will feature foreign policy, so both sides will have a chance to engage fu rther on the issue. In fact, the entire last presidential debate is supposed to be about national security.