I agree wholeheartedly with Dany that Republicans need to recognize the importance of national security in this election. I was disturbed a few weeks ago when Mitt Romney suggested that in his first 100 days he would have no national security meetings and focus on the economy – as he (incorrectly) suggested Ronald Reagan had done. And it was an egregious error that, at a time of war, the GOP nominee failed to even mention that war in his acceptance speech or say a word of praise and encouragement to our troops on the frontlines. Not only would it have been the right thing to do, his failure gave Democrats an opening to hammer him last night – as speaker after speaker gleefully did.
But there are some silver linings in this admittedly dark cloud. For one thing, Romney did take more than a week off the campaign trail to do a foreign policy tour abroad. He got criticized back home not just for his gaffes (both real and imagined), but for wasting valuable time in Britain, Israel, and Poland when he should have been in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. And he did take the time during the week of the GOP convention to give a national security speech to the American Legion in Indianapolis.
And while it took AEI’s intervention to force a discussion of foreign policy in the GOP primaries, the October 22 presidential debate in Boca Raton is slated to be a foreign policy debate. (The town meeting format debate on October 16 at Hofstra University is slated to be a discussion of both foreign and domestic policy — we’ll see). So Team Romney will have to engage in a foreign policy debate going forward whether they want to or not.
Based on their convention, the Democrats seem to think this is an area of advantage for them. Without the bin Laden raid, I doubt they would be putting as much emphasis on national security. The attack that Romney lacks foreign policy experience is laughable coming from the community organizer who can’t seem to organize the international community to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And the scene of Democratic delegates booing the insertion of language asserting that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel back into the platform is a debacle that makes foreign policy a net loss for them this week.
I agree that Obama is vulnerable on national security. But Romney needs to seize on those failures and make the case on why he would be a better commander in chief. The good news is he’ll have a chance to do that Oct 22nd.