GOFFSTOWN, NH -- With 10 American troops killed fighting in Afghanistan in the last two weeks alone, America’s decade-long war was front and center Monday morning during Mitt Romney’s 100th town hall as the GOP ticket was asked to weigh in by a veteran about what they would do with the “damn mess in Afghanistan.”
“I will address the American people about these issues and with regards to Afghanistan," Romney contended before a crowd of about 3,500. "I will do everything in my power to transition from our military to their military as soon as possible, bring our men and women home and do so in a way consistent with our mission which is to keep Afghanistan from being overrun by a new entity that would allow Afghanistan to be a launching point for terror again like it was on 9/11."
Romney has previously criticized Obama setting a timeline, then appeared to shift on that last month. It indicated support for the 2014 timeline, but accused the president of being for it for political reasons.
Romney said the president should be addressing the nation on a regular basis during war time but failed to mention that the President has, in fact, updated the country on affairs abroad several times, including just this past May on national television from Afghanistan.
“We will work with the Afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014: counter-terrorism and continued training," the president told troops on May 1. "But we will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people."
In his first appearance in the Granite State during the 2012 cycle, presumptive GOP nominee Paul Ryan put his national security knowledge on display, as well.
“And when you give the military a specific mission and the military tells you, here is what we need to complete this mission, to keep our soldiers, sailors, airman, and Marines safe, you give them what they ask for. It is very important,” said Ryan, who went on to criticize Obama’s troop drawdown in the middle of the fighting season.
Many have raised questions around the seven-term Wisconsin congressman’s foreign-policy background since he was selected as Romney’s VP choice just 10 days ago. Although Romney has also said that listening to commanders on the ground is vital, he has also echoed support for the 2014 timeline. Ryan's statement seems at odds with that support of a timeline.
Today, Ryan not only weighed in on Afghanistan, but fielded a question on Israel and Iran too.
“It is very vital and important that the signals we send, that the leadership we provide, that we strengthen our relationship with our allies, that we improve this relationship, which has deteriorated so much under this president, so that our allies in this region are negotiating from a position of strength and not being undercut by the United States of America when they’re trying to arrive at peace,” he said noting Israel is America’s strongest allies.
The turn to foreign policy today comes as violence in Afghanistan has ticked up. The campaign has also recently taken an increasingly negative tone, with both campaigns levying charges of dishonesty in their advertising and on the stump. Today, Romney took a shot at the president for what one questioner said were dishonest attacks against Romney on his tax record.
“It seems that the first victim of an Obama campaign is the truth, and it has been – it has been sad and disappointing,” Romney told the crowd in the quad at St. Anselm’s College. “I will not raise taxes on the American people, I will not raise taxes on middle income Americans, we’re going to make sure that Americans have the money to pay their bills, we’re not going to raise taxes, that slows down growth, it kills jobs, we’re going to get this economy going, and Mr. President, stop saying something that’s not the truth.”
Romney, though, is running an ad accusing the president of wanting to get rid of work requirements in welfare, a charge that has been widely discredited. The Romney campaign has not only created one version of this ad, but three, including one just this morning.
After making this joint appearance to kick off the last full week before the Republican National Committee convention, Romney and Ryan will now campaign separately -- Romney heads to New Orleans, LA, and Ryan to Pittsburgh, PA.