Romney hits White House on defense cuts, intel leaks

posted at 5:21 pm on July 24, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Following a not-what-I-would-call-tough act by President Obama at the same venue yesterday, Mitt Romney spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference in Reno, Nevada today. The idea was to frame his overarching foreign-policy stances before jetting off to London for an international campaign swing (which, for some reason unbeknownst to me, Team Obama demands needs to be more than ‘one long fundraiser and photo op’ — yeah, okay guys), and he definitely took the opportunity to pounce on the security leaks coming out of the White House and the military’s coming automatic defense cuts.

Full transcript here, and here are some highlights:

I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. …

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.” And he is right. …

This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours. The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict. …

All this and more is ongoing in the world. And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity. When the biggest announcement in his last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy – then you know it’s time for a change. …

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me make this very clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.

Interestingly, Obama also spoke about the coming defense cuts in his speech yesterday, but with a rather different approach. According to President Obama’s logic, Republicans’ opposition to tax hikes on the wealthiest earners is going to hurt the military, because not supporting said tax hikes would exacerbate the deficit, and the deficit in turn is one of the greatest threats to our military and our national security… or something. His unrivaled ability to bring class warfare and proven non-solutions into everything just has my head spinning.

Obama used his address to suggest Republicans’ call for tax cuts could end up hurting the Pentagon — by exacerbating the deficit, in turn allowing automatic spending cuts to kick in as the only way to start closing that deficit. The president, though, said this can all be avoided.

“People in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” he said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ 113th annual national convention in Reno, Nev. “And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.

“Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military. And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.”

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