CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his decision not to discuss the Afghanistan war in his convention speech. He said he didn’t plan to watch President Barack Obama’s convention address but offered some advice, saying Obama should discuss promises he has already made instead of offering new ones.
As Obama prepared to deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Republican nominee stopped to visit veterans as he drove from an adviser’s home in Vermont to his own estate on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Asked by a reporter why he decided not to discuss the Afghanistan war on his party’s biggest stage last week, Romney pointed to an address he gave to the American Legion the night before as evidence of his commitment to the armed forces.
“The president was also invited to the American Legion and he was too busy to go. It was during my convention,” Romney said, military veterans standing around him. “I went to the American Legion, described my views with regards to our military, my commitment to our military, my commitment to our men and women in uniform.”
Romney was the first Republican nominee since 1952 to not mention war during his convention speech. He flew to Indianapolis the day before his address to the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., to speak to the veterans’ organization.
Romney’s omission of Afghanistan in his Tampa remarks reflected weak public support for the Afghanistan war, fatigue over a decade of terrorism fears and the central role of the economy in the campaign. But it was still a remarkable shift in tone for a party that, even in times of peace, has used the specter of war to call for greater military spending and tough foreign policy.
Romney’s remarks Thursday came during a brief stop to greet veterans who were calling other New Hampshire residents on the GOP candidate’s behalf. They were gathered on a Romney-logoed campaign bus parked outside the New Hampshire Statehouse.
After snapping photos with supporters, the Republican nominee told reporters that he isn’t planning to watch Obama’s convention address Thursday night.
Romney said, though, that if Obama “is going to report on the promises he made and how he has performed in those promises, I’d love to watch it. But if it’s another series of new promises that he’s not going to keep, I have no interest in seeing him because I saw the promises last time.”
Romney pointed to the national debt, an increase in food stamp recipients and a drop in incomes as evidence that Obama had not followed through on promises he made.
“Over the last four years, the president has said he was going to create jobs for the American people and that hasn’t happened,” Romney said.
The Republican nominee said he hasn’t watched any of the speeches at the Democratic convention so far. First lady Michelle Obama spoke Tuesday, and former President Bill Clinton gave a lengthy address Wednesday night.
“I hear Bill Clinton spoke for like, 50 minutes?” Romney said.
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