It’s time to remind Mitt mid-debate that he actually did call Russia our number one geopolitical foe while he was ignoring al Qaeda. Romney skipped his way around having called Russia our number one political foe in tonight’s debate, claiming that Obama wasn’t being accurate and his attacks were wrong. Romney claimed that he called Russia a foe along with others. But indeed, Romney did inaccurately and bizarrely call Russia our number one geopolitical foe, and he did it several times.
From the debate Monday night:
OBAMA: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.
Cut to Romney’s response:
ROMNEY: Well, of course I don’t concur with what the president said about my own record and the things that I’ve said. They don’t happen to be accurate. But — but I can say this, that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing, and the rising tide of tumult and — and confusion. And — and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.
But I’ll respond to a couple of things that you mentioned. First of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe. Not…
ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same — in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone.
A refresher for Mitt Romney of his own record:
Romney: “There’s No Question But That In Terms Of Geopolitics… Russia Is The Number One Adversary.” [Situation Room, CNN, 7/30/12]
Romney: Russia “Is Without Question Our Number One Geopolitical Foe.” [Situation Room, CNN, 3/26/12]
“Two decades after the end of the cold war, Mitt Romney still considers Russia to be America’s ‘No. 1 geopolitical foe.’ His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.” [Editorial, New York Times, 3/29/12]
“Mitt Romney’s labeling of Russia this week as America’s ‘No. 1 geopolitical foe’ has drawn attention to his emerging hawkishness on several foreign policy fronts, from China’s monetary policy to the war in Afghanistan—a trend that contrasts to his more muted style on domestic issues. The Russia remark has fanned concerns among both Romney supporters and nonpartisan foreign-policy experts that Mr. Romney’s desire to contrast himself with President Barack Obama has led the GOP candidate to take positions that would be difficult to maintain if he wins the presidency.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/29/12]
As for Al Qaeda, they weren’t on Mitt’s mind until tonight. About time.
Romney mentioned “Al Qaeda” in only two of his seven foreign policy addresses and gave no specifics on how he would address the terrorist group.*
Ezra Klein said on the Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, 7/25/12: “The problem is Mitt Romney is running against the president who finally killed Osama bin Laden and ended the really, really unpopular war in Iraq and who amped up the drone war like it or not, that has killed almost every guy to hold the title al Qaeda`s number three….
Not once in his speech did Mitt Romney mention the phrase al Qaeda. Not once. Go ahead, we have linked the transcript on our blog. You can go there, you can hit control F, and type in al Qaeda. You will get nothing. In anticipation of that speech, Romney campaign put out this fact sheet telling the candidate`s foreign policy. There were lots and lots of bullet points but again, not any mentions of al Qaeda. Control F al Qaeda, bupkis.”
The real deal here is that Mitt Romney can’t articulate his foreign policy because he doesn’t have one that the American public would like to hear about. Romney’s foreign policy team is full of Bush Cheney people. Just like them, he’s not interested in going after al Qaeda because he is more interested in going to war and giving war contracts to the folks on his “military advisers” team. In this debate, Romney did a big turn from his previous positions, not the least of which was suggesting that he had supported Obama’s withdrawal plan in Afghanistan, when in fact Romney called it a mistake until today.
Suddenly tonight, Mitt Romney agreed with President Obama more than he disagreed.
*[Romney, VFW Address, San Antonio TX, 8/30/11; Romney Foreign Policy Address, Charleston SC, 10/7/11; Romney VFW Address, Reno NV, 7/24/12; Romney Address, Jerusalem Israel, 7/29/12; Romney Address, Warsaw Poland, 7/31/12; Romney American Legion Address, Indianapolis IN, 8/29/12; Romney Foreign Policy Address, Lexington VA, 10/8/12]
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.