Republican Mitt Romney cast President Obama as weak on foreign policy, lamenting Thursday that the United States was “at the mercy of events instead of shaping events” and promising a military revival that he said would bring “American leadership” to the Middle East and across the world.
Romney paid tribute to the four Americans lost in this week’s deadly assault on diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya at a campaign rally Thursday in Northern Virginia. The Republican nominee indirectly suggested that unrest overseas was a result of a president he portrayed as a weak commander in chief.
“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we’re at the mercy of events instead of shaping events, and a strong America is essential to shape events,” Romney told an estimated 2,700 supporters at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax. “A strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military. We have to have a military second to none and that’s so strong no one would ever think of testing it.”
Romney rhetorically pressed the same themes of his statements Tuesday and Wednesday responding to the crisis overseas, but he only indirectly attacked Obama. Unlike in his earlier statements, Romney did not slam him by name Thursday in his discussion of foreign affairs.
“The world needs American leadership,” Romney said. “The Middle East needs American leadership. And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”
Romney devoted most of his 18-minute speech in Fairfax to his economic themes, at one point joking to his crowd that they should “memorize” his five-point economic plan. And he blamed Obama’s policies for widening the income disparity between the wealthy and the middle class.
“We’ve watched him for the last four years, and what he has done has not helped,” Romney said. “It has led to a $4,300 decline in median income; it’s led to unemployment being above 8 percent for 43 straight months; it’s led to a larger and larger gap between the wealthier and the rest of America. His policies have not worked.”
The Obama campaign responded by saying that Romney’s tax plan would result in jobs being sent overseas and give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.
“Mitt Romney today said that he would make America stronger, but we know that’s not true,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. “These policies won’t make America stronger — they’re part of the same formula that crashed the economy and devastated the middle class in the first place. America can’t afford to go back.”
VIDEO: GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns in Fairfax, V.A. Thursday, speaking on the economy, female entrepreneurs he has met on the trail, and America’s standing in the world.