August 31st, 2012
09:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney leaves out war comments

(CNN) - In a new campaign video and in emails sent to reporters throughout the day, the Obama campaign spent much of Friday highlighting what they call an important omission from Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“In an almost 45-minute speech, Mitt Romney didn't find a moment to mention Afghanistan,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement sent to reporters just after midnight. “With no new plans and evasion about his real plans, Mitt Romney leaves this convention no stronger than he came.”

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An Obama campaign web video released early Friday morning showed edited clips of the many patriotic platitudes included in Romney’s speech before a female narrator points out that “at a time when 84,000 American men and women are fighting for their country in Afghanistan,” Romney’s speech included “not a single mention of how or when to bring them home safely.”

The campaign also sent around an Associated Press story claiming that Romney became the first Republican nominee since 1952 to give an acceptance speech at his party’s convention without mentioning war.

However, that 1952 speech was delivered by 5 star General Dwight David Eisenhower, perhaps the greatest American war hero of WWII. And although he never referred to “war,” it would have been hard to not notice the subtext of all the military language he used in his first acceptance speech.

Here is a typical phrase from that July 11th 1952 speech, “We will so undergird our freedom that today's aggressors and those who tomorrow may rise up to threaten us, will not merely be deterred but stopped in their tracks. Then we will at last be on the road to real peace.” It’s hard to believe he wasn’t referencing the Korean War, which was still raging, in his statement about “today’s aggressors.”.

The National Security Network, a progressive national security group, also noticed the omission and sent out a statement from its director Heather Hurlburt pointing out that actor and director “Clint Eastwood had more to say on these topics than the man asking America to trust him with our nation's security.” Eastwood mentioned Afghanistan in his unorthodox remarks earlier in the evening.

"In an almost 45-minute speech Mitt Romney didn't find one moment to mention Afghanistan, Iraq or the men and women who are serving - though he did take the time to continue the winks and nods at a new war with Iran,” Hurlburt said in her statement.

NSN’s statement also included a clip from conservative writer Bill Kristol, who noted Romney’s decision not to mention Afghanistan in a blog post on the Weekly Standard’s website before asking, "What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing to even mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we're fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? Has it ever happened that we've been at war and a presidential nominee has ignored, in this kind of major and formal speech, the war and our warriors?" The answer to Kristol’s question might be found in the 1952 Eisenhower speech.

Conveniently, President Obama spent Friday serving in his capacity as commander-in-chief with a previously scheduled visit to Fort Bliss in Texas to mark the second anniversary of the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.

Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams responded to the criticism.

"The day before his convention speech, Gov. Romney traveled to the American Legion national convention–an invitation the President declined–because Gov. Romney views any opportunity to stand with those who have served as a privilege,” Williams said. “In contrast, President Obama has failed in his duty as Commander in Chief to win the home front. Unlike any wartime president in memory, he has failed to consistently and forthrightly speak about the war in Afghanistan to the American people. The Obama campaign's attack on Gov. Romney today is another attempt to politicize the war in Afghanistan, a war in which President Obama has dangerously based his decisions on political calculations, endangering our mission."

- CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this story

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. William

    Bain Capital does not offer an instructional course in foreign relations or war management.

    September 1, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. korkea aika

    Romney is a mystery. We don't know what he thinks, what he would do as president, or who would really guide him. He's really odd and out of touch. I'm wondering whether the american people will really go for someone so evasive.? We'll see.

    September 1, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. adam

    Romney promised 12 Million NEW jobs ? Does he think every American is as gullible or dense as him?

    Govt. DOES NOT create jobs, especially when Romney/Ryan want a smaller govt. PRIVATE Sector creates JOBS.

    Govt. can only establish business friendly environment like Payroll tax relief, new hiring tax credits, expedited depreciation of capital expenditures. Obama admin did that. Obama tried to remove tax credits from companies that outsource but the Republicans defeated that proposal.
    Obama tried to rein in wall st crooks with tougher rules and once again, Republicans defeated that proposal.

    Show the people you have Nothing to hide by releasing your tax returns !!!!!
    Guess who said this ? Romney did , to Kennedy in 1994 senatorial Campaign.

    Romney/Ryan has struck a deal with casino baron Adelson, in exchange for Adelson backing Romney/Ryan , Adelson gets a US War with IRAN and immunity from prosecution for big time money laundering by his casino empire.

    Meanwhile, Adelson is under investigation by SEC, FBI, DOJ and Nevada Gaming.

    Romney is Tax Cheat and a Liar.

    September 1, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Riches Picker

    Obama sets the agenda, and Romney responds to it.

    September 1, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Alex

    I want to applaud CNN for being the only news organization to discuss this! I was outraged. Mitt and his clan are so focused on themselves and power that not one of them thought to discuss the soldiers and their families. Romney demonstrated beyond any doubt that he is NOT FIT to be President. My God, the Republicans would have called Obama a traitor if he didn't mention the troops. Every news organization would have written long editorials denoucing the omission. Kudos to Kristol, a man I almost never agree with, for being the lone Republican to speak out against Mitt the Twit's disgraceful omission,.

    September 1, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. ED FL

    Father and sons that are cowardly draft dodgers are the type that want to send other peoples kids off to do battle for there country. I would guess that the males in the Romey family would send there wife/mother out to fight their battles.Can't wait for a scandali n that family comes out and then they can run back to the hills in UTAH where it may get covered up.

    September 1, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. John Galt

    Let us please be intellectually honest with ourselves. If you give Dwight D Eisenhower credit for his military-defensive undertones, you must also extend the same courtesy to Mitt Romney. Wouldn't this comment count as a military-defensive reference:
    "That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it."

    and if that's not specific enough:
    "But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning. President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone."

    That's a lot of military-defensive talk to make the claim that he "left out war comments". After hearing this speech, I think Mitt sounds too supportive of war, but that's just me. In a spirit of intellectual honesty, I think the readers of this article should wonder what is the writer's agenda that would push him to so blatantly compare apples to apples and allege that they're worlds apart.

    September 1, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. John P

    Audie Murphy was the greatest american WW II hero, no 1 man did more to serve like he did, 8 campaigns, Eisenhower was a great comander, but he didn't have t ocharge a machine gun nest...

    September 1, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Romney leaves out war comments◄
    OMG – and if a "Democrat" did that, the Republicans would be "totally" BENT
    out of shape – Remember the ISSUE they BLEW UP because Obama had no "flag" on his lapel
    SAME STORY they run today against Obama – “he's NOT one of us” – and they're taking it to HELL!!

    Psst – Romney is "UNPATRIOTIC" – Pass it on!!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward – And YES, We KNOW you BUILT that – We ALL did!!!!

    September 1, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. ted

    HA. Romney chickened out. the hard topics he missed. His aim is to cut taxes for the rich, screw the middle class and seniors. A Romney presidency will be a very bad thing.

    September 1, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. mike

    And THIS is the guy to elect as commander in chief doesn't even respect those who are fighting for this country now...Go home Romney you draft dodger!

    September 1, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. george of the jungle

    president is right. People seem to forget we are at war and our kids and grandkids are serving. Mitt has no clue and only has been coached on how to lie. Listen to what him and ryan say then go fact check. The romney team has said they don't need to fact check it to say it. Why are people impressed with this rich nasty little man who when governor ran his own state into the ground? He has flip flopped from day one and will say anything to get elected. Forward 2012

    September 1, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. JDavis

    No one on either side really cares about Afghanistan. It's a lost war, another embarrassment like Vietnam.

    September 1, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  14. stew

    And the reason Doctor Rice didn't get any peanuts..."Well Mitt Romney licked the chocolate off them and she well you know is uppity!" Thus said through Mitt's press secretary

    September 1, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Independent, in texas

    if his plans are anything other then " get the hell out " or " abandonment " he has nothing going for him.

    September 1, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. Cindy

    I thought it was well known that Romney's military advisors (the old Bush warriers) want to continue the war in Afganistan and continue to nation build for the next 30 years. And they want to pay for it on the backs of American Grandma's by throwing them out of nursing homes. (Medicaid)

    September 1, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Penobscot

    Team Obama....keep telling yourself the RNC was no good...just one more lie from team Chicago Mob.

    September 1, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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