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. works4me

    Make war... not love.
    Vote Republican!

    August 31, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  2. ace boogie

    That's because Mitt doesn't have a plan, the war hawks of the repubes will take care of that for him, just like Bush jr.

    August 31, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. once upon a horse

    I would guess because if elected president we can forget about or troops coming home from Afghan since Romney was against it all along. In fact i look for our men and women to be boots on the ground in Syria and maybe even Iran.

    August 31, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Dennis

    Yes,Romney cares about the Afghanistan war only when it comes to defense contracting.Unless you are filthy rich,the military is treated by Romney like all other segments of American society,like dirt under his feet.I would trust him about as much as I would a cobra.

    August 31, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  5. DENNA

    Romney is long of bs and short of specifics. Romney/Ryan scares me. I don't think they are remotely acquainted with the truth.

    August 31, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. David

    He's an empty suit...'nuf said!

    August 31, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  7. usmc1999

    just because Obama makes up stuff and feeds it to the masses like it were bird food doesn't mean he has a plan. he promised to close Gitmo on day 1 of his administration. he has provided no clear guidance on the future of Afghanistan other than to say "we'll leave soon". he has no plan. no solutions. just rhetoric. Romney may be no better, but at least he didn't promise the moon while knowing it was a lie.

    August 31, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. Squigman

    If it get's swept under the carpet, it becomes a non-event. He know's the public has the attention span of a ferret, on cocaine.

    August 31, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. The_Mick

    Obama "has failed to consistently and forthrightly speak about the war in Afghanistan to the American people." This is Romney's excuse for failing to speak about the war ONCE?

    August 31, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  10. pimpson

    Eisenhower was a great president. Don 't soil his memory by putting this failure Obama in the same sentence.

    August 31, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  11. John Bark

    The ole Demmies and their left-wing media lapdogs are sure trying their best to find something, anything about the Romney/Ryan team that they can denigrate or ridicule.

    However the Republican wave continues to move forward in a positive way as it builds momentum. Those of us who believe in America’s future, and our pursuit of liberty, success and happiness look forward to November. This election is about jobs, the economy, and our national debt. It’s not about looking in the rear view mirror, but rather forward, on the road ahead.

    August 31, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  12. lovethedifferentcommentsystemsCNN

    who doesn't love war

    August 31, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Wailinburnin

    Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen and women – don't doubt America has you in our hearts especially with these new Afghan Forces murders in the War Zone we are hearing about. Interesting little factoid this story points to. I suppose you press guys and gals will want to follow up by asking the volunteers in uniform if they give a flying rats behind. Might be good to interview some families in the base towns. It would be surprising if they did given that even Seal Team 6 members have been characterized as anti-Obama to the point of reluctance. Opinions I would think are pretty hardened, but interesting, might as well give it a go. Hang tough Service-people – you gotta know people care.

    August 31, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  14. ricardo1968

    In all fairness, a presidential candidate is not going to have the same level of military advice as the sitting president. Ultimately, upon gaining the White House you pretty much have to do what your told in that regard, unless you are a general yourself (Like Eisenhower was, for example). You really have to be an expert in these matters to form policy.

    August 31, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  15. Bill

    Grasping at straws.

    August 31, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  16. George

    After the speech I spoke to all of the members of GOP in my military family. All of them were struck by how blind this candidate must be, and all of them said that even if they stayed home and did not vote they would not cast their vote behind this GOP wannabe. His silence was such a disrespectful and revealing statement of his total disconnect with our service men and women in harm's way. Unbelievable – now we now that the real Actor on the stage last night was the nominee, not the guy who introduced him who is a career Hollywood pro.

    August 31, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Why mention our men and women fighting? I do not think that they contribute enough to either campaign for either men to care. Hopefully, whoever is elected, will honor their service by providing any and all services our wounded warriors require without partisan bickering. That may be too much to ask, but not too much for us as the people to demand! End the wars. It didn't help anyone (including the people who live there), except the corporations that profited from the blood spilled. Why should these wars be any different than all our recent adventures?

    August 31, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. Emerson

    Of course he can't mention it. He would have to somehow defend his partiy's ill-fated decision to get us involved in an unwinnable war that has cost over 2,000 American lives. At least he did not repeat his gaffe that the reason that all of his sons have not served in the military is so that they can better serve the United States by helpinghim get elected. A true man of the People? How about a huge ventiloquist dummy for Ryan, Cantor, the Koch brothers, the Heritege Foundation and the rest of the right wing idealogues.

    August 31, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  19. BBear

    Why did it take you folks in the MSM to notice this? It's not just that he failed to say the word "Afghanistan". He also offered no support or thanks to the families of dead soldiers and wounded veterans. No "I have your back from the corporate takeover artist.

    August 31, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  20. myviewis

    At least Romney means what he says and he is willing to be held accountable to his words. I look forward to hearing the well orchestrated, cautiously written, precise, artificial, legally non-binding written speech of President Obama who will later on tell us that what we heard him say was not what he meant to say, that we misunderstood him. Just like his speech in 2008 he gave to the people in Janesville, Wisconsin when he said IF our government is there to support you and give you assistance this plant would be here for another 100 years. Yes, Obama is a fine lawyer and everyday people forgot to bring their para-legals with them so as to make sure one would hear those little tricky words like IF. Yes I look forward to hearing all the promises, moving mountain speech.

    August 31, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  21. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Not one speaker at the republican convention bothered to empathize with the people of New Orleans and beyond on the misery they are going through with another hurricane! Not ONE! Totally forgot about those people, no wonder he made a bee line for New Orleans! No mention of our men and women serving in the military at home or abroad! Self centered and uncaring. Obama has Obama Care(s) and Mitt the twitt has WE DON'T CARE!

    August 31, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  22. brown

    If you want to see your country fighting another mindless war, vote for the AIPAC owned Romney!

    August 31, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  23. bernie

    next stop. iran

    September 1, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  24. mike

    How pathetic! Ann Romney had to make a speech vouching MItt's credibility. What do expect Ann Romney will say, that Mitt is a drunkard and untrustworthy?

    September 1, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  25. Fortinbras

    Romney is a foreign affairs novice. And it will be painfully obvious when he debates Obama. I have absolutely no doubt Obama will start mopping the floor with Romney once foreign policy is brought into the discussion.

    September 1, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
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