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. ram

    I think that the Romney campaign needs someone who can answer criticisms more convincingly. No matter how flawed President Obama's policy on Afghanistan might be, how would that justify a presidential candidate's failure to even mention American troops engaged in a dangerous overseas theater?

    September 1, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  2. Sackof Mitt

    Mitt will attack Iran because he has a small unit. The chicken draft dodger does not mind killing brave Americans to make himself feel tough.

    September 1, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  3. SafeJourney

    If Romney is elected Americans are guaranteed a war with Iran and possibly Russia.

    September 1, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  4. Mittens

    Mitt will attack Iran because he has a small unit. The chicken draft dodger does not mind killing brave Americans to make himself feel tough.

    September 1, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. fernace

    The President was celebrating a successful end to the war in Iraq, as opposed to Romney who has a laundry list of potential "geopolitical foes"! We heard them mentioned by Condi Rice, among others! But Not Romney! He didn't even mention Afghanistan, where our sons & daughters are fighting this very moment! The GOTP have been all over Obama about "bringing our troops home" & berated him for Libya! At the convention people cheered Rice for proposing an extention in Afghanistan, but they also cheered Eastwood for telling "Obama"(chair) to "bring the troops home, now"! So Democrats should stop the war & Republicans should start it!? Or what are y'all trying to say?? Hey, we'll be happy to stop the war! Obama 2012!!

    September 1, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. mya pinyun

    Romney leaves out war comments...Romney isn't human enough....Romney has no plan...Romney's plan is too long . ...Romney should have spoken about his plan....Romney shouldn't be critical of Obama....Romney must be racist....Romney is a ....yikes...Mormon...Romney's clothes were too rich...Romney should dress up more on the campaign trail...Romney killed a woman when he ran Bain.....etc...etc...etc...
    One would come to the conclusion that maybe the media is in the tank for Obama....

    September 1, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  7. n

    Let's tell the truth about last nigh RNC Convention . . . Romney did not make a dent in his overall persona last night. He even looked like he was reading from a teleprompter. No zeal, no passion, no substance . . . We know it was all a big fat act, a bad one at that. Paul Ryan, everyone knows is a lier, brat and in no time at all, he will start to wear on the American people nerve, much like Palin did. And has for good ole Clint Eastwood, the republican party, they can have him. His best years all long gone. I felt kind of sorry for him. Clint is a true sign of the republican party leadership, old, washed up and needs changing often.

    September 1, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  8. Bob

    Obama is the most despised president since Jimmy Carter by the US military. He can't change that by "acting" like commander in chief.

    September 1, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  9. Log Cabin

    How could Romney even be thought of as a Commander in Chief? The guy took "draft dodger" to a whole new level.

    September 1, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  10. FedUpwithLA

    I am sure Romney is a nice to this war stuff. But then again, so is Obama. We have lost our incentive to help others by military means and are thinking about ourselves now. That is the "new reality," if any.

    September 1, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  11. Ryan/Romney Kill Medicare Team 2012

    Romney is a draft dodger, of course Afghanistan slip his mind. Romney delivered a speech with no core and no new ideas.

    September 1, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  12. CueBallSTL

    Why should Romney mention Afghanistan? If Obama keeps his promises, that war should be over years before the election in November 2012.

    September 1, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  13. Thomas

    Of course he would't mention that none of his five sons volunteered for military service for wars they supported.

    Once again , selective memory helps the elite from there shame.

    September 1, 2012 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  14. sigmond seamonster

    Mitt Romney has kissed the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Of course he winks about iran in his acceptance speech. He doesnt care about Afghanistan because it is not in Jerusalem's interests.

    September 1, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  15. Textor 2

    and the lunacy continues.

    September 1, 2012 02:44 am at 2:44 am |

    Would you trust this say nothing dirt bag tax cheat with your mom and dads Medicare and soc sec ????

    September 1, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  17. dahditdah

    (Obama) "has failed to consistently and forthrightly speak about the war in Afghanistan to the American people." And that's Romney's excuse for not mentioning an on-going war,started by a Republican president, that has cost America more blood and treasure than it was ever worth? Apparently Karl Rove's turnabout strategy doesn't work every time..

    September 1, 2012 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  18. BurstBubble

    Since 1980 the choice of a president has always been about "choosing "the lesser of two evils, so that isn't really a choice. There are no statesmen between these to men. They both have agendas to pay back the people who bought and paid for them to be president. Presidents were never supposed to be professional politicians and that is where this country has gone wrong. The president doesn't have integrity either. Gov. Romney is hiding way to many things in his life. He needs to get educated about science...... His comment about clean coal is really indefensible.

    September 1, 2012 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  19. Geoff

    I wish the spokespersons for the candidates would slap duct tape over their mouths and let the candidates speak for themselves from now on.

    September 1, 2012 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  20. Dann DFW

    Romney's speech mentioned defense spending while failing to mention the soldiers. Is it any surprise that the GOP values the profits from the defense industry over the workers (soldiers).

    September 1, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  21. Frankie

    Really who is this guy that they have in charge over at the Romney campaign. You have to think about things really when it comes down to it this guy is running for office. In a 45 minutes he didn't speak of the men and women that are or have lost life in this war. I think that the GOP is really going to have to take a look at where they want to take the party. If this is not something that they do and soon they are going to be at a loss when the younger GOP don't embrace what the older GOP want them to embrace.

    September 1, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  22. Bart

    Hurlburt was sleeping throughout Romney's speech if she did not hear any mention of Afghanistan. Romney did not give an end date for our stay, but instead relied on the Military to come up with a end date.
    Politicians make bad military decisions. A perfect example is President Johnson during the Vietnam War.

    September 1, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |

    Don't worry

    He will take care of America

    September 1, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  24. AmandaKay

    The Afghan war began either on Sept 11 when terrorists attacked out country on our soil or on Sept 20th when President George W Bush addressed Congress declaring War on "Terror". Afghanistan was mentioned in his address by name when Bush layed out his demands. There was never an official declaration of war on either Iraq or Afghanistan. Bush just reacted to 9/11 & we were at war with "Terror". Obama did NOT start the Afghan War but he is finishing it. Eastwood asked why not bring the troops home tomorrow? Because Afghanistan is a landlocked country and to air lift out just the troops but abandon the equipment would be an expensively stupid gift to the militant AlQaeda cells still operating within the Afghan borders. Can you imagine the Republican outcry if all those
    billions of dollars worth guns, tanks, helecopters, missile's & advanced tech were just abandoned to the people of Afghanistan! ? Id love to see that fiscal irresponsibility hissy fit!

    September 1, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  25. Canukman

    I guess since no member of his family is in harm's way, it really doesn't matter to him and not even worth giving lip service to those that are doing the fighting. .

    September 1, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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