Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is set to deliver a foreign policy speech Monday that his campaign is hyping up as a clear contrast to the foreign policy approach of President Barack Obama.Romney, who will give the address at the Virginia Military Institute, is expected to renew his criticism of the president’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Libya, during which U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. Romney’s speech comes as Obama has faced challenges on both sides of the aisle over the last two weeks on his handling of the situation.
In particularly heavy excerpts released by his campaign, Romney will compare the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to the original Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, saying they were both likely the work of al-Qaeda.
Here are the relevant excerpts:
The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East—a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century. And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself.
The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001. This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the Administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the Administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.
The speech — entitled “The Mantle of Leadership” — contains some of Romney’s harshest, most direct criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Romney is looking to build some momentum on foreign policy after some missteps during the summer.
In a highly publicized overseas trip, Romney got blasted by British officials for suggesting that the country did not look ready to host the Olympics. And Palestinian leaders painted him as “racist” when he gave a speech in Israel.
The Obama campaign has already pushed back against the speech, releasing a memo and television ad slamming Romney for failing to “move beyond swagger and slogans to actual strategy.”
“Today’s latest effort to reboot and reset the Romney foreign policy doesn’t change the fact that he’s repeatedly taken positions outside of the mainstream and often to the right of even George W. Bush,” Michèle Flournoy and Colin Kahl, Obama campaign national security advisers, wrote in a memo.
During a conference call previewing the speech, Romney’s foreign policy team name-dropped a deep list of former presidents to advocate for Romney’s foreign-policy direction: Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and even Bill Clinton.
While his foreign policy team charged Obama with “leading from behind” on everything from Israel to Afghanistan to Iran, Romney’s speech attempts to emphasise the contrast in these issues.
“I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values— and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us,” Romney said. “America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.
“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.”
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