With his 17-minute speech, Romney offered the clearest outlines of his views on foreign affairs since launching his second presidential bid in June. He told nearly 1,000 veterans assembled at the cavernous Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center that “we are united not only by our faith in America, but also our concern for America.”
“Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?” Romney said. “He seems truly confused not only about America’s past but also about its future.”
Making his first stop in the Lone Star State since Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into the race earlier this month, Romney delivered a veiled broadside against his chief rival.
“Now I am a conservative businessman,” Romney said. “I have spent most of my life outside politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”
The line drew hearty applause, but it was unclear how many in the audience interpreted it as a swipe against Perry, who has held elective office since 1984. Romney often speaks of himself as a political outsider, noting that he only held office for four years, as governor of Massachusetts. (Romney’s critics point out that he might have earned the label “career politician” had he not lost his 1994 Senate race.)
In his speech here, Romney sharply criticized Obama’s handling of the long war in Afghanistan and the military’s role this year in Libya.
“In Afghanistan, the president has chosen to disregard the counsel of the generals on the ground,” Romney said. “I don’t know of a single military adviser to President Obama who recommended the withdrawal plan that he’s chosen, and that puts the success of our soldiers and our mission at greater risk.”
The Libya mission, he said, “was marked by inadequate clarity of purpose” and “ongoing confusion.”
“When a president sends our men and women into harm’s way, he must first explain their mission, define what it means to be successful, plan for their victorious exit, provide them with the best weapons and armor in the world, and properly care for them when they come home,” Romney said. “Anything less is not befitting a great nation.”
Romney employed some of his toughest rhetoric yet in his presidential campaign. He said the world is “still infected with purveyors of hate and oppression.”