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Obama camp to Romney: Did you forget about al Qaeda?

As mentioned earlier, Mitt Romney today delivered a foreign-policy/national-security speech that largely criticized President Obama.

"I will not surrender America’s role in the world," Romney said at the end of the speech. "This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today."

Yet the Obama re-election campaign countered with this observation: Romney never once identified defeating al Qaeda as a goal in his speech.

Indeed, the principles Romney laid out in his speech were:
-- conducting foreign policy "with clarity and resolve."
-- promoting open markets, freedom, and human rights
-- using America's power (both hard and soft) to influence world events
-- work with multinational organization but also lead them.

And the actions he said he would take:
-- increase military spending on the Navy and missile defense
-- order the regular presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean to deter Iran
-- promote economic opportunity in Latin America
-- order a full review of transitioning Afghanistan's security to its own people
-- and bolster alliances with Israel and Great Britain.

But none of the principles or actions involved al Qaeda. In fact, Romney never mentioned those words in his speech, although he did refer once to "Islamic fundamentalism" and another time to "Islamic Jihadists."

Said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt:

"Gov. Romney raised real questions about his capacity to lead this country and wage the fight against terrorism. He didn't outline a strategy to strengthen America's security and promote our interests and didn't even identify defeating al Qaeda as a goal. President Obama has degraded al Qaeda and dealt huge blows to its leadership, including eliminating Osama Bin Laden, ended the war in Iraq, promoted our security in Afghanistan while winding down our commitment in a responsible way and strengthened American leadership around the world. Governor Romney proves once again that he is willing to say anything, regardless of the facts, to get elected."

*** UPDATE *** Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul notes that Romney's white paper, which accompanies today's speech, contains this section about al Qaeda:

"Our mission in Afghanistan is to eliminate al Qaeda from the region and degrade the Taliban and other insurgent groups to the point where they are not existential threats to the Afghan government and do not destabilize Pakistan, with its stock of nuclear weapons. Our objective is to ensure that Afghanistan will never again become a launching pad for terror and to send a message to any other nation that would harbor terrorists with designs on the American homeland."