Romney: Liberty comes from strength
August 30th, 2011
12:36 PM ET
7 years ago

Romney: Liberty comes from strength

(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used a speech to veterans Tuesday to chastise President Barack Obama's handling of the military and contrast his leadership style with that of the current commander in chief.

The former Massachusetts Gov. said the U.S. cannot be a leader on the world stage by expecting more from its enemies. American strength, he said, is the "only guarantee of liberty."

"With freedom as our cause, strength is our only sure defense," Romney said before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Romney said defense cuts proposed by the White House assume two mistaken beliefs – that the world is becoming a safer place and that America should become a "lesser power."

"It flows from the conviction that if we are weak, tyrants will choose to be weak as well; that if we could just talk more, engage more, pass more U.N. resolutions, that peace will break out," Romney said. "That may be what they think in that Harvard faculty lounge, but it's not what they know on the battlefield."

He pointed specifically to U.S. involvement in Libya, where he said the mission lacked clarity, an oft-repeated Romney refrain from the campaign trail.

"When a president sends our men and women into harm's way, he must first explain their mission, define its success, plan for their victorious exit, provide them with the best weapons and armor in the world and properly care for them when they come home," Romney said. "Anything less is not befitting a great nation."

Rival presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke to the same group Monday and also advocated for the support of servicemen and servicewomen.

But Romney used his business past as evidence he can properly chart the future of the United States, which would include slicing billions from the defense budget.

"Let me tell you, as a conservative businessman who has spent most of his life in the private sector, I look at that kind of inefficiency and bloat and say, 'Let me at it,'" Romney said.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Bill

    If "Flip-Flop" Romney ever became Commander-in-Chief, we'd end up on two sides of the same war! By the way, since Mitt Romney was contrasting his leadership style with the current Commader-in-Chief, what branch of service did he or any of his 5 sons serve in?

    August 30, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Larry L

    President Obama has managed the military masterfully since inheriting the mess left behind by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. He's executing a controlled exit from Iraq, something "W" never even considered when he played cowboy. He's been the terrorist's worst nightmare, killing Bin Laden and systematically taking out leaders on a regular basis – something the Bush administration never cam close to accomplishing. He's avoided sending ground troops Libya but participated in a true NATO initiative – so unlike the war-happy Republicans. In this area Mitt Romney needs to STFU, Americans can see results in spite of his ridiculous criticism.

    August 30, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "Let me tell you, as a conservative businessman who has spent most of his life in the private sector, I look at that kind of inefficiency and bloat and say, 'Let me at it,'" Romney said.
    I read that line and was instantly reminded of "Nightmare on Elm Street" and Fred Krueger. Our worst nightmare wants to become POTUS and start cutting jobs.

    August 30, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    You mean the kind of Leadership and Strength President Obama has demonstrated over and over?? Saved us from anotherGreat Depression. Created positive jobs numbers every month of his Presidency. Passed more than 200 laws for the PEOPLE before the Republican invasion of obstructionists in 2010. Killed Osama bin Laden. Freed 3 Arab nations from their dictators in 6 months time and with the SUPPORT of the ARAB LEAGUE and full cooperation of NATO? Not one America soldier put in harm's way. Did it all for 3 countries with less than $1B dollars. The Bush wars have lasted a decade, killed thousands of our soldiers, cost trilliions of dollars and have been a total FAILURE. President Obama is the REAL leader in this nation. He knows how to accomplish and handle issues – not just sit around and criticize and pontificate about unrealistic non-solutions to anything. Republicans are a joke and don't know the first thing about leadership or creating jobs.

    August 30, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Pam

    Romney says ""When a president sends our men and women into harm's way, he must first explain their mission, define its success, plan for their victorious exit, provide them with the best weapons and armor in the world and properly care for them when they come home," "Anything less is not befitting a great nation."
    Boy, I bet you were alll over GW Bush when he sent us to invade Iraq with NO mission, NO plan for success, and certainly NO victorious exit!

    August 30, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Excuse me Mittens, usually 'bullying' comes from strength and little concern for others. If Mittens wasn't such a limp wristed flip flopper, he would know that.

    August 30, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    As Gov. Romney tells it, I am to understand that he is a master at helping companies in financial distress. Some say that he looks like the guy who fired your family member. But, I have noticed that Gov. Romney was able to achieve his greatest financial success by outsourcing labor. This generated profits for the company involved, but at the expense of the employees involved.

    Enter President Romney. He cuts the Pentagon budget and hires professional mercenaries like Haliburton, which was never involved in defense until Cheney was VP, BTW. He cuts the Army Corps of Engineers, which causes more crumbling infrastructure come the next natural disaster.

    Let's avoid another political disaster and simply give Republicans what they know best. Say, "No."

    August 30, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Joe The Plumber

    Guess Mitt missed the memos on Bin Laden and the more recent number 2 being killed.

    August 30, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Sure, Mitt. And if his years at Bain Capital are of any consequence, he did a fine job of cutting and slashing, and shipping overseas, never mind the loss of American jobs. A bit more difficult to slash billions from Defense. Especially considering the McCains, the Cantors, the Boehners, and all the other Republican defense spending gurus who will absolutely filibuster Romney in the exact same manner as they now filibuster Obama.

    August 30, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Bill in Austin

    Why do Republicans seem to have a hard time understanding the concept of "shared sacrifice"? On the domestic front, it appears that they want the middle and lower classes to bear the burden of helping restore the economy while giving the wealthy and large successful corporations a pass. It seems that in Libya that they would prefer that the US take all the responsibility and all the risks. They seem to want us to have our military run the operation, finance the lion's share of the costs, and place more of our people in harm's way. I feel that they are worried more about our reputation than they are the end results. I believe that President Obama had a good game plan and he was able to keep others involved as opposed to what happened in Iraq when every country seemed to bail out.

    I also find in amazing how all these candidates are suddently experts in foreign policy and the military. Get some bona fides before you start dispensing advice.

    August 30, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Harold

    The GOP has no business criticizing anyone else about the handling of the military.. their polices destroyed the military during Bush and got thousands of them killed..

    August 30, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Lamental Jester

    We must be strong blah blah blah. We have the most advanced/powerful military in the world, we're plenty strong. The "bad guys" aren't gonna get us if Obama remains president (which I truely believe he will). Before Obama became president, we were one of the most hated counties in the world thanks to Bush's shoot first and negotiate later policy, now it sounds like Romney wants to bring that tactic back, cause we will look "weak" otherwise. Sorry, I'll take Obama's foreign relation policies over Romney any day.

    He talks about his business past, ok, lets talk about it: as CEO of Bain Capital, Romney profited as five of the companies under his firm's direction went bankrupt, and thousands of workers lost their jobs. His business strategies are a success for himself only. Keep this guy away from our military

    August 30, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. The Other Michael in Houston

    First off Romney you sat on the sidelines and said nothing while we going into Libya and not you want to armchair monday morning quarterback the President plan. Let me help you Romney since you missed the media's report, the President of the United states along with other leaders stated they wanted to help the rebals over throw the Libyan govt, President Obama agreed to lend naval and air support, he did just that, let the UN take over the mission, got out without one loss of an American life, or injury to my knowledge. Unlike President Bush, who sent are whole military to Iraq, to invade a country and kill a dictator who did nothing but talk smack about his daddy, unfunded with very little support outside England, cost 4500 American lives and millions of injuries, and never had the money to pay for the Bush/Cheney Crusade which means I and everyone in the future have to pay it. I like President Obama as my Commander and Chief

    August 30, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney is confused because he's talking about George W. Bush and not President Obama.

    August 30, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Jake

    Obviously he and many Americans haven't learned that the handshake is stronger than the fist.

    August 30, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Mr. Moderate

    We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined. Yes we need to maintain a strong defense program but we do not need to continue to fight the cold war when no one else is. We do not need bases in 170 countries, we do not need a military presence in Germany to fend off a Warsaw Pact enemy that disappeared 20 years ago, we do not need 12 carrier battle groups and we do not need to continue to maintain 60 years old B-52s and ICBMs. Our politicians on both sides use the defense budget as a jobs program, after all its shout down opponents (How dare you turn your back on the troops, you want to capitulate to our enemy?). The parallels between us and the Roman Empire in its decline are stunning.

    August 30, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The question is Romney talking about liberty comes from strength because we are well armed or because we have the strength of our convictions and ideals? I believe that we need to work with similar minded countries to advance the causes that we believe. I would hope that Romney would explain himself further. Just because you are strong doesn't mean that you should be in charge or beating down someone else.

    August 30, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Russ

    What a pompous ass. This comes from someone who received deferments from the Mormon church and college for over five years so he wouldn't be eligible for the draft and then lucked out with a high number in the lottery draft in the '70's. So Mr. Military Expert never served in the military. How nice!!

    August 30, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. TXJim

    So winning a war without putting one soldier on the ground and nobody dying from our military .. and that shows a lack of strength...

    August 30, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Tim Friedman

    Yet another "ME TOO" moment after Perry spouted off some nationalistic drivel yesterday.

    Mitt is slow and weak. He has no idea how to fight, but he's A+ at being a yes man.

    He will be an excellent Secretary of the Interior for Perry.

    August 30, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Romney, using strength only ensures you'll have enemies. Try cooperation it goes a lot further.

    August 30, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "It flows from the conviction that if we are weak, tyrants will choose to be weak as well"

    Now he's just flailing like a kid whose swimmies deflated in the middle of the deep end. That sentence not only doesn't make sense, but there's no good argument that it is even remotely's just a poorly constructed attempt at a talking point parallelism.

    Obama orders the Abbottabad raid that kills bin Laden: Romney and the rest of the GOP pretend it was Bush or somehow downplay that Obama had anything to do with it. Heck, Huckabee's idiot organization released a "9/11 documentary for children" in cartoon format and it plays up Bush's role and then never even once mentions Obama despite taking the story all the way to the death of bin Laden.

    Obama then has a very successful and increasingly publicly approved-of military involvement in the downfall of Libyan dictator Ghadafi, who Reagan had a tiff with but failed to oust: Romney and the rest of the GOP ignore the success and pretend Obama makes America look weak and has made horrible foreign policy decisions. And they do this despite Obama having shown that responsible, thoughtful, cooperative foreign military efforts that come about by using diplomacy to enlist not only the cooperation of our allies, but the approval or at least the acquiescence of major groups in the region are successful at achieving their goals AND at maintaining a healthy positive relationship with our allies AND avoiding the destruction of our image in the particular region and creating new or more numerous enemies, etc....moreso than military actions initiated and organized under contrived or even fabricated emergency circumstances and through chest-thumping shoot-first diplomatic bullying.

    Romney's and the GOP's talking points about Obama being "weak" or doing a poor job on foreign policy have been completely destroyed by Obama's record and they're scrambling to find a rhetorical short-cut around it.

    August 30, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. Marie MD

    We are still waiting for one of your sons to serve. Oh, I forgot, the rich don't serve!
    Why didn't he mention who started these two wars?

    August 30, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. sonny chapman

    Did Mitt mention how many of his able-bodied sons were protecting this Country he proclaims to love through military service ? About as many as the Brave Bush boys.

    August 30, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Dave

    If anything, Mitt is predictable. He harps on and on and offers solutions he read off of a bumper sticker. He's a typical Republican – all mouth and no brains. Next...

    August 30, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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