September 17th, 2009
04:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Potential 2012 candidates knock Obama on missile defense

Romney said the administration's missile defense plan is 'wrong in every way.'
Romney said the administration's missile defense plan is 'wrong in every way.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum - two of the Republicans thinking about challenging President Obama in 2012 - are savaging the administration's plans to scrap a planned missile defense shield in Europe.

The Bush administration had wanted to install the shield in eastern Europe to protect against the threat of long-range missiles from Iran, but the Obama administration said Thursday it will instead pursue a scaled-back program that would focus on short-range missiles. The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the Bush-era plans that would have placed missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, called the move a slap in the face to eastern Europeans "who have stood so valiantly with America and who took political heat for backing the missile-defense system" and accused the president of caving to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Romney, who is scheduled to deliver a high-profile foreign policy speech in Washington next week, said it's risky to tinker to with defense plans when American intelligence regarding Iran's missile capability is murky.

"President Obama has made a dangerous and alarming decision to shelve our missile-defense system in Europe," Romney said in a statement. "His decision is wrong in every way, despite his rationale."

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, said the president is spurning European allies in order to "appease" Russia - "a potential foe."

"The Poles and the Czechs have a legitimate fear of a re-emergence of the Russian threat to their security and are desperately seeking closer ties to the West," Santorum said in a statement to CNN.

"It appears we have not learned from the mistakes made with respect to these allies from World War II and the Cold War," he said. "Repeatedly turning our backs on our friends will only serve to weaken our alliances and embolden our foes."


Filed under: Mitt Romney • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Darth Vadik, CA

    Democrats know Star Wars is a movie, Republicans think that Star Wars is a Reagan invention to keep the Reds at bay.

    Mitt, why don't you make sure you don't tie up any more of your dogs on top of your car roof and that your landscaping workers are here legally.

    September 17, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Tom

    This is not a "scaled back program". According to Sec. of Defense Gates, the new missile defense shield will be 1) more effective 2) more mobile and adaptive 3) cheaper 4) and operational 6-7 years SOONER than the program under Bush. Why does everyone continue to focus on the Russia angle, as opposed to what the Military Leaders say?

    September 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Justin

    The real issue here is – THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS AN EFFECTIVE MISSILE DEFENSE SHIELD.

    It's a fantasy and a complete waste of money.

    Bush backed it because he liked talking tough. But it was always a joke.

    If Russia wanted to launch a missile attack on Europe, there would be nothing we could do but annihilate them back. And we can do that with existing weapons in the U.S. and on our submarines.

    Iran may be another story – they have A LOT fewer missiles.

    September 17, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. Peter

    That was all Cheneys plan to enable the defense contractors further loot American tax payers monies.

    September 17, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    "President Obama has made a dangerous and alarming decision to shelve our missile-defense system in Europe,"

    "appease" Russia — "a potential foe."

    Please. More moronic fear mongering. God forbid we work toward world peace.

    Who's buying this crap?

    September 17, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. Tom

    So, now Obama is "weak" because he follows the UNANIMOUS recommendation from his military leaders (Sec of Defense and Joint Chiefs)?

    We should thank him for putting in a BETTER missile defense system that will work, is more mobile, and cheaper.

    This decision is based on those principles, not on what Russia thinks.

    September 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    Obama has shown that the only foreign governments that need to fear him are our allies. Dictatorships and repressive regimes like Venezuela, Iran, N. Korea, China, Russia, Hamas, and Myanmar all applaud the patsy we have in the White House.

    September 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Fan of Common Sense

    If the republican primary voters had had the good sense to nominate this man, Obama never would have been elected and this country would not be in the mess it's in now. GO MITT, 2012!!!!

    September 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Otto

    Yes Sir, as many of your friends prefer to spend billion or trillions on the military machine of the cold war; you and your friends will not support social policies. You would rather your voters go without healthcare and war vets go withour proper care; while you fill the pockets of the huge military machine.

    What am I saying? This goes without saying, human beings are of no importance unless they are of the 1% top wealthy Earthly Gods.

    September 17, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Tom

    According to Def Sec Gates, there will be MORE interceptors, not less... so, why does this article say that the new program is "scaled back"?

    September 17, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Phil Smith

    These guys really know nothing about national security, it seems. The plan that will be introduced by the Obama Administration is much better than the one spearheaded by the Bush Administration.

    But then, this is about politics, not about what's best for the United States. Forge on, you bozos.

    September 17, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. alpha_nu_916

    Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum – yikes!
    this is the future of the republican party. good luck, nuts.
    when are the tea baggers going to nominate glenn beck or michael savage for president? absolute losers . . .

    September 17, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. stan

    Joe wilson is going to become the poster child for the democrats in the latino in asian cummunity,if the gop was smart their ask joe wilson to lay low,because the latinos sees him as the guy who wants to destroy their cummunity,thats not good for the gop,am looking at the latino in the asian cummunity voting 90% for the democrats in 2010 and 2012,everybody is talking about how racist the gop is becoming,so if the gop leaders were smart they would put an end to this immediatley or they will find themselves absolete by 2020

    September 17, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Richard-Arkansas

    Yes, we need that star wars concept which really works as long as Iran is willing to tell us when and exactly where their missles will be. We don't need to spend large amounts of money on systems which are not proven when there are existing systems proven to work. Of course, some contractor friends of the Republicans will get their toes stepped on but, hey, they already have 170 planes that don't work and aren't needed and that is enough of a Republican stimulus plan.

    They are really good spending our money.

    September 17, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. tigerakabj

    That's the problem right there. Romney and the rest of his party care more about that out-dated, highly-expensive, Cold War, in-your-face military industrial complex spending than they care for the American people.

    We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined, yet folks like Romney yell out 2 seconds later about our domestic problems, "healthcare reform is wasteful spending and bankrupts our children and grandchildren."

    Obama, keep on the track you are own. Fired up and ready to go.

    September 17, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Luke Brown

    I thought people like Romney and Santorium were AGAINST wasteful spending.

    The missile shield is an illusion.

    Hey, didn't Santorum get his butt kicked out of office by his own constituents? So, now he thinks he deserves a promotion?

    September 17, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Deuce

    Good on you Mitt. Your Country is slipping away. Into oblivion..

    September 17, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Right Trash

    I do love it when righties cry about cutting useless military costs – especially when they've never served a day in any branch of the armed forces.

    September 17, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Buddy Gilmour

    The Russians are bullies but I don't think anyone believes they intend to nuke Poland. So the missile plan was both useless and antagonistic. IMHO the best reason to abandon the plan is to leave Europe at risk to missiles from Iran. Thats the only way to get them to realize its in no one's interests for Iran to have nukes.

    September 17, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Stephen

    What a joke: Santorum and Romney have more strategic/military experience than Defense Secretary Robert Gates? Partisan politicians shooting their mouths off about that which they know nothing.

    September 17, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. an american first

    Here they go again. First of all, Iran may only be months away from developing short range missile and years (maybe even a decade) away from developing a long range missiles. So what makes sense to defend E.Europe against right now? I think a 5 year old can answer that question.

    Second – By taking this very obvious step, Pres. Obama has improved US-Russia relationship. Russia is one of the only non-middleeastern countries that currently approves Iran's actions. If Russia pull their support as well, then Iran will have no friend left and they will have to adjust their policies. Just as N.Korea can hardly function without China, Iran cannot function without Russia. That is what makes this move a "no brainer" in my opinion.

    September 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Texas Doc

    Last time I checked our enemies were using human bombs, cars & trucks, or just plain old roadside bombs. Oh yeah, they used airplanes as weapons once. Remind me when a missle defense system in centrak Europe was ever effective against one of these. Lets focus on the enemies we have and try not to make any new ones. Oh yeah, aren't these critics hyper-Christian? Love thy neighbor ring a bell? Blessed are the peacemakers?

    September 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Len in Washington

    And I suppose these guys think that Secretary Gates (a Republican)
    as well as ALL of the Military Chiefs of Staff who are in agreement with this decision are "sacrificing our safety to appease Russia" as well.

    What self-inflated fools these two are.

    September 17, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. AEK

    I think that if the Europeans are that worried about the Russians they can build their own missile defense shield. We could be of great assistance sending scientists and provide technical support. In the meantime we can take the billions of dollars we saved from not paying for a missile shield that everyone knows does not work and spend that money on universal health care, our education system, ending hunger in our country and providing rehabilitation services for the victims of the Bush administration's last effort at nation building. If Mitt and the rest of the obscenely rich red baiting neocons would like to help the Europeans out with their little project, I'm sure they would be perfectly happy to take their money. Unfortunately for Mitt and the boys, they can't scare anybody now by playing the evil red threat card. A good thing that the politicians we elected last November are a little more grounded in the 21st century than the hate mongers still living in the 1950's.

    September 17, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. smokesignals

    Romney is blowing smoke!
    As usual.

    September 17, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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