Since it became clear that Mitt Romney would win the GOP nomination, the Obama campaign has been eager to portray the former Massachusetts governor as the committed conservative he presented himself as in the primaries. But Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday portrayed Romney as weak and waffling when it comes to foreign policy, an issue on which Democrats feel they have the advantage in the fall campaign.
Biden contrasted what he characterized as Romney's uncertainty with President Obama's record of making "hard calls with strength and steadiness," with no better example than ordering the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, a successful mission that is nearing its one-year anniversary.
Speaking roughly two miles from ground zero in New York, the vice president outlined the high-stakes decision Obama made, noting that even his most senior national security advisers – including Biden – were divided on whether to proceed.
He also pointed to a previous Romney statement in which the former Massachusetts governor said it was "not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars" to try and catch Bin Laden.
Obama, Biden said, "made one of the most courageous decisions I've seen a president make in my lifetime, and I would argue in a long time. ... On this gut issue we know what President Obama did. We can't say for certain what Gov. Romney would have done."
Biden also repeated what he has said should be the bumper sticker slogan for the Obama campaign: "Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."
"You have to ask yourself, if Gov. Romney had been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?" he said. "People are going to make that judgment. It's a legitimate thing to speculate on."
The 2012 election is expected to turn on the state of the economy, which polls have shown to be overwhelmingly the biggest concern of voters.
But those same polls show that one of the areas where Obama holds a clear advantage over Romney is on foreign policy.
White House and campaign aides have denied that Biden's speech was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Bin Laden's death. The month ahead also will give Obama opportunities to show himself to voters as a leader on the world stage, with the G8 leaders summit at Camp David and a NATO summit in his hometown of Chicago.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released earlier this month showed that by a double-digit margin, voters said Obama was stronger than Romney on national security and foreign policy. But Romney had the advantage on jobs and the economy.
Biden did attempt to link the two in his speech, arguing that Obama's auto industry rescue, among other economic policies, "made us stronger not only at home, but abroad." He also argued that Romney's "loose talk" of war with Iran was in part to blame for an unsettled oil market, and thus higher gas prices at home.
But the speech was more an opportunity for Biden to testify to the president's leadership, saying Obama kept his promise to end the war in Iraq, set a clear strategy for success in Afghanistan and showed resolve in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Invoking Teddy Roosevelt's mantra to "speak softly and carry a big stick," Biden said: "I promise you: the president has a big stick."
He quoted Romney as saying in the 2008 campaign that if voters want someone who has foreign policy experience "we can simply go to the State Department" and that a president "is not a foreign policy expert."
The comment, Biden argued, showed "a profound misunderstanding of the responsibilities of the president and the commander in chief."
"That kind of thinking may work for a CEO but it will not and cannot work for a president. And it will not work for a commander in chief," he said.
The Romney campaign, in a conference call before the president's remarks, argued that Obama's foreign policy has weakened the country. Dan Senor argued that the president's track record has left the nation and its allies "exposed and isolated in a way that I have not seen in American foreign policy history for years."
"It's clear Biden has amnesia about the Obama administration's foreign policy failures whether it's alienating allies like Israel, the failed Russia reset, and emboldening adversaries like Iran and Syria that seek to undermine our nation's security. America can't afford four more years of leading from behind from President Obama," added RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski.
Original source: Joe Biden blasts Mitt Romney's 'CEO mindset' on national security