April 26th, 2012
12:50 PM ET
2 years ago

Biden hammers Romney over foreign policy

(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden took direct aim at presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a speech Thursday, hitting the candidate as having an outdated approach to foreign policy that was "fundamentally wrong."

"Governor Romney wants to take us back to a world that no longer exists with policies that are dangerously divorced from today's reality," Biden said in his remarks at New York University.

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On the campaign trail, Romney has repeatedly advocated for a stronger military presence in certain parts of the world, including possible military assistance in Syria and Iran.

The Romney campaign has been especially critical of the president on Iran in recent weeks, saying the current adminstration waited too long to impose its recent round of sanctions and has all but eliminated the threat of military intervention against the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

But Biden lauded the Obama administration's handling of the situation and accused Romney of wanting to move in the direction of war.

"The only step we could take and aren't already taking is launch a war against Iran," Biden said. "That's what Gov. Romney means … He should tell the American people. He should say so. Otherwise the governor's tough talk about military action is just that: Talk."

Last month, Romney took heat over describing Russia as the country's top "geopolitical foe." Democrats, including Biden, have since seized on the comments as a way to paint Romney as a candidate with a "Cold War mindset."

Hitting Romney as "ignorant" on foreign policy, Biden said Romney was "counting on our collective Amnesia" and wants to move back to an approach that "would have America go it alone" and would "lash out first and ask the hard questions later, if at all."

Biden also argued Romney had a "profound misunderstanding" of the decision making powers of the Oval Office, claiming Romney would outsource decisions to the State Department or others with more foreign policy experience.

"That kind of thinking may work for a CEO, but it cannot and will not work for a president and will not work for a commander in chief," Biden said.

The vice president also attempted to draw a sharp contrast between Obama and Romney over the war against terror, repeating a line he's used in recent speeches.

"If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," Biden said.

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark attended the Biden speech, and speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign, said the president's national security record puts him at an advantage over his Republican opponent but added that reviving the economy is critical.

"Our future is about our economic strength, not our military now. We may have to use the military again, but we have to have a strong economy," said Clark, who stressed the importance of an "all in" energy policy to achieve that.

Surrogates for Romney's campaign, however, took issue with Biden's remarks, telling reporters on a conference call prior to the speech that Obama has drastically and irresponsibly changed the country's approach to foreign affairs.

Alex Wong, Romney's top foreign policy adviser, argued Obama was an outlier to most modern presidencies, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, and said both presidents have abandoned a doctrine of "peace through strength."

"So if Joe Biden or Barack Obama want to compare a weak Carter-Obama doctrine to 'peace through strength,' then we're happy to make that comparison," Wong said.

Asked how Romney would handle the ongoing crisis in Syria, Wong said Romney would work with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two American allies in the region, to "identify, organize and arm" the opposition.

Others on the call, including former Defense Department official Dan Senor and former Navy Secretary John Lehman, faulted the Obama administration for defense cuts, as well as decisions to restrain from arming opposition movements in Iran and Syria, citing them as examples of Obama's "failed policies."

"What we're seeing here is that America's voice and America's influence is not what it was in many of the previous administrations," Lehman said. "The United States is not as strong as it should be internationally."

A recent poll showed less than half of voters believed the president has done well in handling foreign policy, with 46% saying they approved of his policies, while 36% said they disapproved, according to the mid-April survey by CBS News/New York Times.

Meanwhile, according to a recent CNN/ORC International Poll, 52% of voters believed Obama can better handle the job of commander in chief, whereas 36% felt the same about Romney.

– CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Also see:

Web ad mocks Obama as 'celebrity president'

Texas governor switches endorsement from Gingrich to Romney

Congressman calls Afghan president 'corrupt prima donna'


Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Joe Biden • Mitt Romney • New York
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    What foreign policy? Does sending American jobs overseas count as foreign policy? Maybe he can use the Foreign Policy for Dummies book that rubio used. They can share it so as not to spend all od the millionaire's money.

    April 26, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  2. SUBS 4 VOTES/Dutch Bad Newz, VA/GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    I agree. They really think people have amnesia. I'm just waiting to see the ads running showing Americans outside the White House & New York the night Osama Bin Laden was killed.

    April 26, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  3. king

    We all know what the war mungering Romney will do if he become president, I've got one thing to say, can we afford it.

    April 26, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney made a debate pledge that he is ready to start a shooting war with Iran. Enough said.

    Mitt Romney wants to implement tax cuts that would be equivalent of the Bush Era Tax Cuts all over again. The Romney Wrong Tax Cuts would keep the original Bush Error Tax cuts. Romney has not indicated how he would even pay for his $5 trillion tax cut, either. He probably doesn't plan to pay for it all. Either that, or completely gut the same social safety nets that kept the economy from falling into deep depression in 2008 because of the same identical tax policies.

    April 26, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Everyone in favor of stopping another Republican recession, the Romney Recession, please get out to vote.

    April 26, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  6. beevee

    I am surprised people even mention as if Mitt Romney has a foerign policy with his next to nothing experience in this area.

    April 26, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. chuck weidemann

    Romney knows how to make money at other peoples expense...and that's it.

    April 26, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    ►Biden to attack Romney on foreign policy◄
    Something Romney refuse to speak about – it's always the "economy"
    But what we must do is keep Romney to the far right and the constant "flip-flops"
    Don't let him move to the middle – Call him out – Keep him on the "chop block"

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    April 26, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    "Governor Romney's national security policy would return us to the past we have worked so hard to move beyond,"

    And that should be the Dem foreign policy theme for the election. The neocons are desperate to return to power and continue their insane games of bloated military spending, corporate welfare for the Halliburtons, and delusional attempts to remake the world with the US as cop, judge, jury and executioner.

    April 26, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Governor Romney's national security policy would return us to the past we have worked so hard to move beyond," Biden will say in a speech at New York University."

    Biden isn't too far off the mark here. There are something like 20-23 prior GW defense advisers on TeamRomney helping Mittens get that foreign experience (wink, wink) he (and Rubio) lack. What with Cheney up and running again, we'll be right back where we were lickity-split. Mitt Romney doesn't exactly ooze leadership skills ... or "tact" for that matter. Being CEO of Bain Capital is one thing. Dealing with other ... shall I say equals ... who aren't quite as helpless as all the American workers Mitt enjoyed "firing" were, is quite another subject entirely.

    April 26, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  11. sortakinda

    BIden will do ok–if he can 1.stay awake during his own speech and 2. remember that HE's Joe and the OTHER GUY is Mitt.

    April 26, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. Ted van Tol

    Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," Biden will say,

    I love it! Find more of such oneliners and your win will be much easyer in november.
    I can't wait.

    Go Barack, the world is waching!

    Ted van Tol The Netherlands

    April 26, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. Eagle Eye

    One of the main reasons why Joe Biden was selected was because he was suppose to a foreign policy expert. He was suppose to be Secretay of State but he turned that down to become Vice President his wife told him to take the Secretyar of State position. All I want to know is dose Joe Biden consult with Obama on foreign policy issues. I don't think so, I haven't heard or read anything that would put hin in that category. But instead Hillary Clinton takes care of all foreign policy because she didn't want to be Vice President. I believe that may have been a mistake on her part. Joe Biden has a habbit of shooting from the hip when he talks. Meaning he speaks before he thinks. Or he leaps before he thinks. No matter. I don't believe that Joe Biden is going to help Obama I think he's more of a liability than an asset.

    April 26, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Thomas

    @Marie MD
    What foreign policy? Does sending American jobs overseas count as foreign policy? Maybe he can use the Foreign Policy for Dummies book that rubio used. They can share it so as not to spend all od the millionaire's money.

    Romney / Rubio
    Bring back the cold war 2012

    April 26, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Dr. Knowitall

    Oh, tou mean like the past War on Terror Joe ?
    Get these two bozoz and all that came along with them out of Washington.
    NOBama 2012!

    April 26, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Ted van Tol

    Eagel Eye,

    You are right! Hillary would be a better VP pick. Never understand the choice for Joe but I thing it was
    a strategic pick that time and I hope he is not needed as Pres. the next 4 years.
    Although, the onliner above is perfect.

    April 26, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Debby

    You mean Gaffy Duck has an actual job. Eagle Eye this is true thats why the Dems. didn't want Biden out there talking to other countries. They kept him here where they can watch and muzzle him.

    April 26, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Sunny

    All I can say to Biden is he must be going to confession everyday for lying. He certainly turned out to be a liar like his buddy and to think I was going to vote for him when he was running for President. God does work in mysterious ways.

    April 26, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    With one exception, there isn't any foreign policy issue that Joe Biden could use to attack Mitt Romney. Romney has no stand or positions on foreign policy, except for the shooting war that he would start with Iran. You can probably add Syria to Romney's list, too. Aside from those two topics, war and muslims, do you have any recollection of Romney discussing foreign policy?

    April 26, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. judy

    God Bless you JOe but mitt has no foreign policy and everyone knows that. JOe has been around awhile and knows more than people think. Being VP is a not very public job but Biden understands foreign policy and the economy better that mitt ever will. Besides Joe is a regular guy . Not to rich with kids that have served. He has been a good christian good dad and a friend to the middle class. Thats why he is on the ticket and the fact that the president did not throw him over for someone that he thought might get him more votes is a testament to Obamas character. Lets see what ol mittens does. Pander to women or hispanics? Obama/Biden 2012

    April 26, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Pete

    Mitt has foriegn policy experience,shipping our jobs overseas is that sickening fact.His corporate past stinks and no matter what ,it sticks with him everywhere.So Mitt ,enjoy your ride,its coming to a rough end,politically or not,its your choice...

    April 26, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Is this ALL these empty suits have after 4 years? A dumb bumper sticker slogan and scare tactics? Crazy Joe and Obloviator need to talk about what THEY have done. The Middle East is in flames and the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to takeover Egypt thanks to Obama. Iran will be getting the bomb while Obama talks, talks, talks. Israel remains under the bus. And the Russians are salivating at what they will get for nothing because Obama will be "more flexible".

    How do you spell Obama's foreign policy? W – E – A – K

    April 26, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Others on the call, including former Defense Department official Dan Senor and former Navy Secretary John Lehman, faulted the Obama administration for defense cuts, as well as decisions to restrain from arming opposition movements in Iran and Syria, citing them as examples of Obama's "failed policies".
    -------------
    If conservatives were Star Trek fans, then they would respect the wisdom of "The Prime Directive."

    April 26, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Marine1957

    Excessive use of the F-bomb does not make Joe a regular guy. Biden is a lifetime political hack and tool of the unions. His muddle-speak and inability to stay awake and on target makes me wonder if he is suffering from early onset of dementia.

    April 26, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |