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. wgf

    Expecting Romney to take a firm and detailed position on anything is like expecting my dog to solve calculus problems. Not only does the dog not understand calculus, he does not understand the expectation that he should be solving something.

    September 1, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |

    Bill Kristol isn't a Mitt the twit fan. Obama/Biden 2012!

    September 1, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  3. Sharon Mabry

    Why would he mention Afghanistan? He doesn't own a home there.
    But I have heard that Paul Ryan ran up the north face of Mt. Everest in under an hour, without really breaking a sweat, though his sherpa did carry his iPod with its his awesome boy band playlists

    September 1, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  4. Jim

    Obama has already promised to withdraw from Afghanistan. If it's no longer an issue in the campaign, why does Romney need to comment on it?

    September 1, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    This idiot goes to IRAN WAR leaving five sons in safer place. Idiot.

    September 1, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  6. Republican Anonymous

    This is living proof that Romney doesn't care about the men and women who are serving in harm's way. But, what he did mention was creating new wars to send more American sons and daughters off to fight in them, while his five pretty boys remain safe at home.

    September 1, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  7. ted

    Well how can he mention war and then go on to repeat the lie that Obama has not fulfielled any promises.
    Irak war is over, and Bin Laden was killed.
    Mentioning war would be accepting that this president has indeed accomplished something.....don´t hold your breath that repubs will ever do that.

    September 1, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  8. dreucalypt

    Another unforced error by Romney.

    September 1, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  9. tracy

    The repubs response to any question is always the same. i truly wish CNN had some balls to start outlining what this president has done, instead of jumping on the "silly media" bandwagon.

    September 1, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. tracy

    And CNN, you should also report the fact that the repubs one and only mission is to make this president a one term prez. You haven't reported, thoroughly, nor truthfully, their blatant plans to obstruct any and all progress we could have in the last 3 yrs, had they coorperated and said "No", as pledged, to anything this president tried to do. CNN, ur sickening and you lack integrity. Donna Brazille, you can do better than CNN. Your worth is much greater. Thank you for telling the truth, something your co-workers seem to think will hurt their ratings, or they think Rush Limbaugh will blast them.

    September 1, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. ChrisG

    What? no war comments Romney. You dont want to tell the American people that you will send them or thier children to war with Iran if you are elected

    September 1, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  12. Big_D

    Who cares? It was more disturbing to watch Eastwood blame the Afghanistan invasion on Obama. The GOP even forgets their former president started the war. I guess they try to forget Bush even existed because he is living proof that GOP policies are BAD.

    September 1, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  13. John

    If Mitt Romney win ,than America will be at war with IRAN with In six Months, and I bet you that he doesn't have any of his five son In It. That what good about Republican they love to start war so there big Business buddy can have Government contract and make a lot of money. They don't have any trouble sending your and my kids, but they won't send any of there.

    September 1, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  14. Randy Neville

    As has been the theme far too often for Republican candidates, don’t offer any specifics about what can be done to solve anything. Color the truth or just outright lie if it makes Obama less likable. Every Republican running for office in the past decade has done the same. It’s easy to play to voter dissatisfactions, harder to come up with solutions - so they don’t - only promises they will do something. Why won’t they tell us what? Could it be that they don’t have the answer, or that they simply don’t want to say what they will do if elected? Romney’s theme seems to be that lying or shading the truth will get him elected. His opponent is just too likable.

    September 1, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. kathy/Minnesota

    I find it quite disrespectful that he would not say one word of the daily sacrifice being made on a hourly basis. When as we all know "WAR" is on his to do list, show some respect Mr. Romney.

    September 1, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. drsylve

    The Romney campaign does not accept mistakes, Is this the way governor romney wants to run america?

    September 1, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. Ian

    endangering our mission? Seriously, come on. President Obama has to clean up the "former" President Mr. Bush whom invansion of Afghanistan (to go after Bin Laen) and Iraq (to look for mass destruction). Mr. Bush and his loony never bother to produced a plan of how to leave those two countries after being their for ten years. The failure of protection against primitve IE-devices plus blindly allowing Iran to produce A nuclear program also cost unnecassry lost of lives and created problems that will continue to haunt the middle east for years.
    AND Gov. Romney complaing? Has Gov. Romney even admint Mr. Bush Failures? Nope.
    Boy, this election is going to be nastry and burtal. Too bad, in the end, nothing going to be solved.

    September 1, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  18. Mark S.

    We are NOT fighting for our country in Afghanistan, we are there for some Political crap and for the Gold that China wants. other than that we Have NO reason to be there, and the people of Afghanistan don't want us there either. I do believe that Paul Ryan remarked on the war issue when he said Obama was talking about a date to get the troops out and he said why not just get them out now rather than say he would announce a date to get them out in the near future.

    September 1, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. Gaz

    Iraq. Afghanistan. Osama bin laden. George w bush. Weapons of mass destruction. September 9th. Twin towers. The auto bailout. The housing market. Jobs jobs jobs. You will never hear republicans mention these things. After all. To them, obama has been president since 2000

    September 1, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Again, Romney's campaign managers showed their incompetence by failing to review the speech carefully. Although it was a speech about "ME", he could have at least devoted a couple of lines recognizing and thanking the contributions and sacrfices made by our brave military men and women in Iraq and Afhanistan. Perhaps the managers thought it was more important to give more time to the guest speaker, Eastwood, who gave a bizarre political speech.

    September 1, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Desmond, a Canadian


    September 1, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. Gaz

    When I say september 9th i'm talking about what led up to the attacks. Who was in charge of norad, the warnings they recieved and the precautions they took all prior to september 11th. But jeb bush can claim that george bush kept us safe. From what? Norad keeps us safe. Who was in charge of norad? Why didnt they kill osama when they had the chance? Mission accomplished my....

    September 1, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. Indy

    Romney is not interested in all that Presidential stuff, he just wants to get in the Whitehouse so he can personally help each and every business in the country create a new supply and demand with his Bainology that worked back in 2004. The entire convention was like a video resume and Romney was applying for a CEO job and had his freinds come and make speeches as his references, and if you hire him he will give you a tax break if you are rich enough to be a private member of Romneyhood. After 10 years of running for President he came up very empty and the convention was a flop for independents or swing states.

    September 1, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. Marty, FL

    As strange as Clint's speech was, it was even more peculiar that Eastwood did not realize his position on Afghanistan was more in-line with Pres. Obama's plan.

    The President states his goal to bring our troops, while Romney chose not to mention our troops at all, much less any plans.

    September 1, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. MarcLogan

    What else would you expect from a typical chickenhawk Republican? Mittens spent a good part of the Vietnam War on a Mormon mission, not to a third world country, but to France. And when he came home, his Daddy made sure that his draft number was high enough he'd never get called to serve. Could have volunteered, but didn't. John McCain, a true war hero, was the exception, rather than the rule, in the Republican party.

    September 1, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
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