(Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
The Obama campaign has rebuked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent criticism of President Barack Obama's foreign policy by describing the former Massachusetts governor's comments as "full of platitude and free of substance."
Romney delivered a lengthy speech focused exclusively on his foreign policy vision for America at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., on Monday, where he took aim at Obama's strategy, claiming that the current administration had weakened America's hold on Middle East affairs and its place as global leader.
"America's security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years," Romney said. "I am running for President because I believe the leader of the free world has a duty, to our citizens, and to our friends everywhere, to use America's great influence -- wisely, with solemnity and without false pride, but also firmly and actively -- to shape events in ways that secure our interests, further our values, prevent conflict, and make the world better-not perfect, but better."
Romney continued by singling out country-by-country the current faults he sees in America's foreign policy, suggesting that President Obama should have acted tougher in his response to the slaying of Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who lost their lives in last month's terrorist attack of Western embassies in the Middle East.
The Republican's prepared remarks were scrutinized in a teleconference by the Obama campaign, however, with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright accusing the candidate of offering little details about how he would address the conflicts he brought up.
"How's he going to turn the page on the failed policies of the past if he wants to keep 20,000 troops in Iraq?" added Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, referring to Romney's pledge to have U.S. troops provide better training to Iraqi soldiers and law enforcers to defend their own country from extremists.
Michèle Flournoy and Colin Kahl, Obama foreign policy advisers, noted what they perceive as Romney's flip-flopping position on the issues: "His position on Libya has no credibility since he's been both for and against our Libya policy."
Some observers also pointed out that Romney's plan in other countries, such as imposing tighter sanctions on Iran to deter its leaders from pursuing nuclear weapons, has already been proposed by Obama and adds nothing new.
Even before Romney's speech on Monday, the Obama campaign released a 30-second ad that ridiculed the GOP candidate's foreign policy credentials, reminding voters of his "gaffe-filled tour" of the United Kingdom, Israel, and Poland earlier this summer, and criticizing the former Massachusetts governor for his scrutiny of Obama immediately after the Libya attacks.
Obama meanwhile was making the rounds in California, honoring Cesar Chavez, a farm labor movement hero, and participating in fundraisers for his campaign, The New York Times reported.
While the president has not yet addressed Romney's speech directly, the two candidates are expected to talk at length on foreign policy issues at their next scheduled debate, which falls on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.