September 2nd, 2012
10:51 AM ET
10 years ago

Romney camp: We talked war before convention

Washington (CNN) – The absence of any remarks on the war in Afghanistan during Mitt Romney's convention speech - cited as a major omission by Democrats - is countered by his speech to the American Legion the day before, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Sunday.

"Gov. Romney thought it was a privilege to be speaking to people who had served so nobly and in that speech, he talked about Afghanistan," Fehrnstrom told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

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Romney's speech Wednesday in Indianapolis was before a much smaller crowd, both in person and on television, than his convention address. Romney's speech in Tampa, Florida, formally accepting the Republican presidential nomination, was viewed by an estimated 30 million Americans, according to Nielsen.

In his speech to the American Legion, Romney made brief mention of Afghanistan, including citing uniformed Americans serving there. The core of his speech, however, was impassioned criticism of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, which Romney said was apologetic and weak.

"President Obama has allowed our leadership to diminish," Romney said Wednesday. "In dealings with other nations, he has given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due."

Democrats, including Obama, have hammered Romney for not mentioning the war in Afghanistan during his convention remarks, saying it was both insensitive and unprecedented for a presidential nominee not to acknowledge troops serving overseas.

"Gov. Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan last week," Obama said at a campaign rally in Iowa on Saturday. "Didn't mention it. Didn't offer a plan in terms of how he might end the war or, if he's not going to end it, he's got to let people know."

Others, including the conservative writer Bill Kristol, questioned why someone running to become commander in chief would fail to mention members of America's military.

"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?" Kristol asked in a post on the Weekly Standard's website.

Fehrnstrom said Romney's intention in his convention remarks was to "introduce himself to millions of voters who were seeing him for the first time."

"We thought that speech was a home run," Fehrnstrom added.

While Romney has said he supports a deadline, set by Obama, to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 2014, he stipulates on his website that any action taken as president would be based not on electoral politics but on the "conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders."

Unlike previous elections, foreign policy and national security are not considered top issues for voters, who overwhelmingly rate the economy as their top issue. While Romney makes mention of foreign policy briefly at campaign stops, including blasting the president for what he calls defense cuts, his stump speech and overall message are almost entirely based on improving America's economy.

In polls, voters consistently say Obama, if re-elected, would handle America's relationships with other countries better than Romney would. In the latest CNN/ORC International survey released earlier this week, Obama had a 51%-44% advantage over Romney on foreign policy.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Randy, San Francisco

    Nice try by the Romney camp to spin this goof. Romney's speech was before the American people and not a smaller audience, American Legion. His omission to acknowledge the troops in Afghanistan was a serious mistake and showed his lack of foreign policy credentials.

    September 2, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Two things. Romney's "Get To Know Me Speech" was just that ... all about "Me ... Mitt Romney ... Aren't I Just The Greatest". Second, Romney - perhaps because of his age - still wants to drag us into the old Soviet Union BS talking points defense.

    I seriously doubt he has the stamina or the cajones to defend America from any outside threat, and to be sure, there are many threats. There isn't a world leader who hasn't watched him bumble along during this years campaign-fest. Without a doubt, THEY have taken note, and will act accordingly should he become President.

    September 2, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  3. Larry L

    As a veteren of 34 years active and 8 in the USAR I served under every Commander-In-Chief since Nixon. I admired the leadership of George H.W. Bush – yet thought his son was a moron. Still, the finest CINC of them all is President Obama. He uses intelligence wisely, listens to the Warfighters, and leverages technology to protect our troops. Unlike President "Mission Accomplished", he values planning and does not approach military operations like a child playing a game. He puts the cost of the war on the books. He establishes relationships with our allies and creates synergy and unity of purpose towards each mission. He has become the terrorist's worst nightmare. Romney was wise to avoid this subject – because a "chicken-hawk" should never challenge a true leader.

    September 2, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. NameMarieCA

    My husband is a retired US Army and my daughter is currently in the Army and I'm terribly dissappoimted that Romney deliberately did not acknowledge our Military
    Forces in any capacity. Commander-in-Chief? I don't think Romney is suited for that position.

    September 2, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Thomas

    We thought it better not to mention why none of the Romney boys volunteered for military service .

    We however support our troops and the war .

    September 2, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. bauserdotcom

    Does Romney think there's some sort of quota? Is he only allowed to say "Afghanistan" once per week?

    September 2, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. PJ

    Romney doesn't know diddly-squat about foreign policy. He even said a President doesn't need a foreign policy,
    all he has to do is go to the State Department. He did manage, however, to take a jab at Putin. Not smart.
    He will be pushed and pulled around by the two neo-cons he has in place as "consultants".
    He handed Senor over to Ryan and kept John Bolton, two of the worst hawks,-besides McCain.
    He did manage to say, after the convention, that there would be no defense department cuts.
    His "never let them know what you would do" theme is becoming more than irritating. I do not want
    "the most secretive candidate since Nixon" to be my President.

    September 2, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    What a stupid answer
    CNN, NBC, abc, CBS ,MSNBC, FOX, PBS, Politico Huffington Post , CSPAN …..Covered the convention nearly 20 Millions watched the convention

    Smart president will use the opportunity . Romney campaign never use the opportunity one reason not vote for Romney

    September 2, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. zapper

    They "talked war" but then Romney didn't deem it important enough to mention in his speech? Absurd, considering we have now been at war in Afghanistan for over a decade. I guess it once more shows us where his priorities lie, and it's not with working families and not with the military.

    September 2, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Bert

    We have our men fighting in a war which was not address in his acceptance speech but Romney want us to know what kind he is and he about, I think as a US Vet I know now what kind a man he is.

    September 2, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens' deeds show more about him than his lies about the president ever will. He has been critical of Obama from day one, and has been wrong on every important program : Detroit, immigration, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, the London Olympics, social security. medicare, TARP, the stimulus, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, jobs outsourcing, transparency, and record keeping. Mittens is a failed governor of MA, and he will make America fail.

    September 2, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. 4MoreYears

    With two sons in the military , this is another reason I would not vote for Romney, not now, not ever. The RNC spent 3 days mis-quoting the President and telling outright lies and never mentioned our servicemen and servicewomen and the sacrifices made on this nations behalf. I guess they were too busy talking to empty chairs. The RNC wasted any opportunity they had to make their case to the American people about specifics; they failed miserably.

    September 2, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Name john

    Romney: i dont want my kids fighting in a war, i want yours!

    September 2, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Anthony... proud tax payer

    Beat the drums of war, send your kids to war. YES.
    But acknowledge our troops during war? Enlist or send your own children? NO.

    Keep it patriotic Mitt, keep it Patriotic...

    September 2, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Is talking about war the same as serving in the military? I think Mittens is digging himself a fox hole that he will never get out of. Mittens should only talk about what he is an expert in : money laundering, tax evasion, jobs outsourcing and receiving government bailouts.

    September 2, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Jimy

    So Mr Romney, are you for chasing the Taliban out of Afghanistan or an immediate pull out? Don't give me that pat answer that I'll talk to my advisers and commanders. BS, what do YOU want to do?

    September 2, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. basky

    The man who will not be president called romney, thinks he can come up with loose excuses not to talk about our brave military man who's fighting for our freedom/security overseas.
    This man who don't care about the poor, thinks he can win our votes, that he refuses to releases his tax returns.
    This man who's so deceptive and lies in his campaign every time he opens his mouth, thinks he can deprive the minorities from voting in order to win election.
    This man who flip flops over and over againg thinks we cannot remember all the things he said before he becomes severly conservative!
    Mitt is a liar and he doesn't care about WE THE PEOPLE OF THIS GREAT NATION(USA)

    September 2, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. T'sah From Virginia

    Republicans are in ETCH-A-SKETCH mode and they feel they can LIE and not care about the facts that they are lying and will rebut and ignore the "FACT-CHECKERS," and that’s okay too. It’s also okay for Romney to forget to mention our American soldiers at an event where 30 million Americans are watching because he claims the day before was “enough” when NO ONE was watching. If that was President Obama, all hell would have broken loose...... PERIOD!!! Romney's campaign and all of his super PACs feel they are "above it all" and if they LIE or forget to wear the American flag on their lapel, it’s okay because they “say so.”


    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward – And YES, We Know YOU Built That – We ALL did!!!

    September 2, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    In an earlier post, A right questioned where the supporters of President Obama were, and mentioned something about viewing Obama : 2016. The swift boating in the movie? were the dishonest efforts of a man named Ricketts who just destroyed the Chicago Cubs.

    September 2, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Does watching a chase scene from G I Joe in Paris qualify Mittens to be commander in chief?

    September 2, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Jeff

    Wow the so-called party who loves and supports our military (republicans) forgets to mention the hard work, sacrifices and dedication their job requires of them. They put their life on the line every day for trigger happy politicians who fail to remember that we are even in a war. Mitt Romney's speech writer and Mitt Romney should be ashamed. The Repubs should be embarrassed.

    September 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |