July 24th, 2012
03:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney blasts Obama for leaks and military cuts

Reno, Nevada (CNN) - Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama and his administration of leaking classified intelligence details for political gain in a major foreign policy speech in Reno Tuesday.

"Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over," Romney said at a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. President Barack Obama addressed the group Monday.

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In Romney's speech, his final domestic stop before his trip to England, Israel and Poland, Romney called on the Obama administration to properly investigate the leaks in a timely manner.

"It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that," Romney said. "When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, 'We'll report our findings after Election Day.'"

To help back up his argument, Romney quoted Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who said at an event Monday the leaks were coming from within the White House.

"I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks," Feinstein said during a question and answer session at a World Affairs Council forum. "I don't know specifically where, but they have to begin to understand that, and do something about it."

Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has used tough language in the past regarding the leaks but has declined to join the Republican call for a special independent investigation.

In June, the Department of Justice announced it was appointing two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, which included classified information published in the New York Times in June regarding what was described as a U.S. cyberattack targeting Iran's nuclear centrifuge program.

Other recent possible leaks of classified information included details on the administration's efforts to expand its drone program and Obama's involvement in "kill lists" against militants in Yemen and Pakistan.

The public airing of details surrounding a recently disrupted bomb plot in Yemen by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also angered intelligence and national security officials.

On Monday, Feinstein was clear she didn't think Obama or his top aides were responsible for releasing the classified information. She did say, however, that Obama needed to set a tone in his administration that leaks would not be tolerated.

"I don't believe for a moment [Obama] goes out and talks about it," Feinstein said of secret intelligence information. "I don't believe the briefers go out and talk about it. But who knows who else. And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself, and hopefully he will do it."

READ MORE: Feinstein hits Romney for using her comments in speech

In his remarks, Romney asked "Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the president believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts."

The former Massachusetts governor also pointed to Obama's first Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was first appointed by President George W. Bush.

"After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to 'shut up.' He added a colorful word for emphasis," Romney said.

He added, "Let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I'll tell you right now: Mine won't."

In his remarks, Romney pinned the blame for the upcoming "fiscal cliff," which includes massive cuts to military spending, squarely on Obama.

"Don't bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking," Romney said. "Strategy is not driving President Obama's massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be 'devastating.' And he is right."

The cuts, which would begin in January 2013, are the result of a Congressional deal struck between Democrats and Republicans last fall during the battle over raising the federal debt ceiling. If negotiators from both parties fail to strike a deal, the Pentagon will be forced to cut an additional $500 billion from its accounts over the next 10 years.

In his remarks, Romney spelled out the consequences of the cuts, saying "That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen."

Obama also addressed the so-called "sequester" on Monday, telling the VFW that Republicans were "playing politics with our military."

"Let's get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong," Obama said.

Responding to Romney's assault on leaks and budget cuts, Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said the GOP candidate was offering only "bluster."

"With all of the complex global challenges facing our nation today, Governor Romney's much-hyped foreign policy speech once again is all bluster, offering no specific plans for our relations with any region of the world," LaBolt wrote. "He's about to embark on a foreign trip where his aides have promised no policy, just photo-ops and fundraising. By resorting to cheap attacks that lack credibility rather than answering the most basic questions about his foreign policy agenda, Governor Romney has simply not passed the Commander-in-Chief test."

READ MORE: Romney walks political tightrope on foreign policy

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Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. rrd

    You libs are great. One of your own points a finger at the Obama administration for the national security leaks and your only comment is about Romney's tax returns?

    July 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. Expat American

    Romney's flavor of the hour slogan for his 'Bully, Lie and Cower" campaign.

    "Do as I say, not as I do."

    July 24, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Jan930

    Mitt, we want to see your tax returns. This is not going away, no matter what you do. What are you hiding?

    July 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Lisa P

    Romney continues to grasp at straws. How anyone could think that this clown would be anything but a disaster of a President, on the order of Bush II, is beyond me. His claim that he wouldn't allow leaks of National Security information for political gain is especially laughable - like everything he's done for the last five or six years hasn't been for political gain? Except the things he's done for financial gain, of course. Romney has already sold out this country once. Why wouldn't he do it again? Ask yourself who was using leaks, rumors, innuendo and misdirection during the Republican primary campaign and you will have your answer about who will also use them as policy tools should he ever make it into the White House.

    July 24, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. Thomas

    Romney is Desperate .

    I hope Mitt explains to the Veterans in Reno today , why he nor his five sons volunteered for military service.

    A true American Patriot .

    July 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Did you right wingnuts read Feinstein's remarks? I think you are reporting Fox foreign owned media talking points.

    July 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. george of the jungle

    sure glad romney is trying to be more positive. after all he has been whining about how negitive the president is. I guess this is his idea of positive. He is a lying little rich kid that thinks he can bully everyone. Forward 2012.

    July 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. rrd


    Romney is Desperate .

    I hope Mitt explains to the Veterans in Reno today , why he nor his five sons volunteered for military service.

    A true American Patriot .
    July 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |

    And when did Obama volunteered?

    July 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. cali girl

    This coming from the fraidy cat who still is ducking and dodging the tax return issue. Also to note, the olympics documents will not be released as was planned, will not include emails discussions or tax information. Sounds like a theme with Robmey.

    July 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Sarah

    And yet, when Cheney leaked the name of a CIA operative in order to target her husband politically, the Republicans didn't bat an eyelash.

    July 24, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. 2020

    romney, where is your tax return?

    where is your Swiss bank account?

    July 24, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. pc

    romney is pathetic.he has nothing to say about what he can do to help the american people, his wife says "we have given YOU people all your going to get from us", neither know one thing about the lives an needs of the middle class. all romney can say is OBAMA BAD ME GOOD. that is not flying with the american people, we may not be rich but we are not stupid either!!
    OBAMA 2012

    July 24, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. george of the jungle

    romney should be ashamed to speak at the VA after his deferments. I cant fighr I am a mormon on a mission. More like a moron on the run.

    July 24, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Ex Republican

    Romney you got me laughing so hard my coworker was laughing also about Romney lying about president Obama.
    Romney show them taxes. Romney why you didnt fight in vietnam war. Romney why have your son enlist in the military.

    July 24, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Peace

    Mitt will fly to Europe tomorrow. What Olympic games have to with the recovery of US economy? And what about taking a trip to Afghanistan instead of London????

    July 24, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Dressage is a manly Mittens' sport where a true athlete watches other people do the training, workouts, riding, and all you get is the $77,000 tax deduction.

    July 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. TAK

    Talking about hypocrisy, or would it be chutzpah?

    This "attack" is coming from the same party of Dick Cheney and others who outed a covert U.S. operative (thereby endangering her life) for not only political gain, but polical retribution.

    July 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. ted

    There goes Rmoney again, wanking off at something he knows nothing about. Washington DC is a very leaky place and unless secrets are kept to one person, you can be assured they will get out, regardless of how much people say they will keep a secret. Rmoney – I bet there were leaks at Bain Capital.

    July 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "Mitt will fly to Europe tomorrow. What Olympic games have to with the recovery of US economy?"

    You can rest assured that the only reason he is going is because he sees it as an opportunity to stage some pre-planned self-congratulatory wank-fest regarding him "saving the Olympics" in Utah...all while he studiously avoids thanking the federal government for all the money it gave him to make it happen.

    July 24, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. n

    This Romney guy is so very funny. What a chicken hawk he is turning out to be. What authority does Romney have to demand such a command. And yet, we are still waiting for his taxes. Oh, let us not forget, when he was Gov. of MA., upon his exit, Romney allowed his staff to purchase state own computers and then destroy all the hard drives. Where is the outrage Mr. Romney? What and why Romney, what and why? You have so many skeletons in your closet, the door is about to burst and what was done in the dark will come to light.

    July 24, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. wade

    Well since it is a leading INTEL senate DEMOCRAT Finstine who is telling all of you that it was Obama;s White House that provided the leaks I would assume that even the Liberals would have to believe on e of their own. Then again we are talking about liberals so who can say!

    July 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "One of your own points a finger at the Obama administration for the national security leaks and your only comment is about Romney's tax returns?"

    Feinstein has quite clearly and unarguably stated that she does not believe for a second that Obama is in any way involved, behind it, encouraging it for political reasons or even responsible for it. In fact, he's got 2 prosecutors specially assigned to investigate it and plug the leaks. All this amounts to is Mittens now using representations of what other people say, not just misrepresentations of what Obama himself has said.

    July 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Wake up people

    More smoke and mirrors from Bush 3. Robmey, you want to be POTUS?? Then we the people DEMAND to see your taxes. Come on people, if this had been President Obama REFUSING TO RELEASE ANYTHING, you would be all over him like flies on you know what. Why the double standard?? And what is Mittens hiding?? How anyone can trust this proven liar is beyond me. Mittens is insulting the intelligence of all that support him and his lies.

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Bob

    Romney will say, "Let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I'll tell you right now: Mine won't."

    Cheneybush outed a CIA agent, and you people didn't care.

    July 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Sniffit

    Deputy Doublethink: "I mean, come on everyone, look how good I am at hiding my taxes from you ...of course I'll be better at nashunal sekyooritah!"

    July 24, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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