OLDSMAR, Fla. – GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan resumed his criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy Saturday morning, suggesting to a crowd of supporters in this town not far from Tampa that the president has diminished America’s standing abroad.
“If we project weakness, they come,” Ryan said of those who would attack the United States. “If we are strong, our adversaries will not test us and our allies will respect us.”
He opened the outdoor rally, as he did at a Friday night event in Roanoke, Va., by noting this week’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions that left four dead in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
But Ryan’s remarks about Obama on Saturday – which included a jab at the president over looming across-the-board defense cuts – were less pointed than the criticism he leveled at the president in a speech Friday morning at the Values Voter Summit.
Ryan was not the only one at Saturday’s rally to make mention of this week’s protests in the Middle East and North Africa.
Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) warmed up the crowd by slamming Obama for remaining on the campaign trail rather than taking time out to fully devote himself to handling the crisis.
Attacking U.S. diplomatic missions, he said, is “the same as attacking the United States Capitol, because they are sovereign territory.”
“They don’t belong to the host country. They belong to us. And after all of the problems we've witnessed over the last couple of days, our esteemed leader, the apologizer in chief, he should be dealing with this problem. But he went to Las Vegas. Well, you know the country might be better off if he would just stay in Las Vegas, then,” Young said to cheers.
He added: “When Mitt Romney makes his first trip, it will not be a trip of apology.”
Among rally-goers as well as speakers at Saturday’s event, there were signs that the demonstrations unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa appeared to have prompted a strong reaction at home.
Some members of the audience expressed anger over U.S. aid to Libya in the wake of this week’s attacks, echoing an argument made by some members of Congress including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
“No more money for Libya!” one woman in the crowd yelled out at one point during Ryan’s speech. “No more Libya!”
Other rally-goers echoed the charge leveled by Mitt Romney and other Republicans that Obama has apologized for America abroad – a criticism that supporters of the president have sharply decried.
Standing near the exit of the rally was a man holding a sign with an image of Obama’s face and the words, “If anybody needs an apology, it’s the American people.”
Another man in the crowd began yelling at him, and the man with the sign yelled back that he was demanding an apology from Obama.
“I’ll give you one,” the second man said, making an indecorous gesture before walking away.