Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he did not mention the war in Afghanistan during his convention speech because he doesn’t think it’s important, even though more than 2,100 American soldiers have fought and died there.
Oddly enough, Romney didn’t make that startling admission under intense grilling. It was none other than Fox News host Bret Baier who pitched the softball Romney so badly missed. Baier noted that Democrats are “essentially saying you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech.”
“We understand you went to the American Legion the day before and you talked about the service and sacrifice of the military there,” Baier continued. “Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech?”
“I’m going to regret you repeating it day in and day out,” Romney replied. “Hahaha. No. When you– when you give a speech, you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things you think are important.”
Romney added that he thinks it’s important for the military to be “strong,” and that he used the word “military” in his convention speech interchangeably with “troops.”
“I think they’re the same thing,” he told Baier, in a comment that practically echoes his one-time insistence that “corporations are people, my friend.” An analysis of Romney’s speech reveals he used the word “America” more than any other, but said “military” just twice.
The Republican candidate doesn’t typically emphasize the Afghan war, but his website does feature a three paragraph “plan” that, in short, agrees with everything the Obama administration is currently doing with the exception of preparing for the war’s end.
Where Romney finds more traction is attacking Obama for allegedly “cutting the military,” even though he did not. To be clear, the cuts are not just Obama’s: They are a direct result of a rare bit of marginal compromise from two political parties that were both desperate to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt obligations, which tea party Republicans pushed for last year.
Democrats and Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), voted for those cuts in 2011 when they passed “the Budget Control Act” (PDF), which directs the Pentagon to find $510 billion in savings over the next decade. An additional $400 billion would be taken out of social programs like Medicare.
Congress used the Budget Control Act to break a partisan logjam over raising the nation’s debt limit, creating a so-called “super committee” to find $1.5 trillion in budget cuts. Since the committee failed, the bill stipulates that $1.5 trillion in cuts be implemented automatically, set to take effect next year unless Congress grants a reprieve.
This video was broadcast by Fox News on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.