INDIANAPOLIS -- The day before he formally accepts the Republican Party's presidential nomination, Mitt Romney today addressed the American Legion's conference here, slamming President Obama on the looming defense-spending cuts and announcing a new policy to benefit veterans.
"We are now just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would weaken the military," Romney said. "President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense has warned that these reductions would be 'devastating.' And he is right."
"The devastation will be felt here at home, where up to 1.5 million jobs could be lost. GDP growth could fall significantly. These cuts will place further stress on an already stretched VA system."
The upcoming automatic defense cuts (as well as cuts to domestic programs) were part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that Congress passed and the president signed into law. Under the legislation, if Washington leaders were unable to settle on a comprehensive bipartisan deficit-reduction solution, then those automatic cuts would go into effect.
Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, voted for the Budget Control Act.
The Obama campaign fired back at Romney. "Lost in his speech was the fact that the only thing standing in the way of preventing the automatic defense cuts he decried is his refusal to ask for another dime from millionaires and billionaires. If Mitt Romney were truly serious about helping veterans, he’d tell Congressman Ryan and his Republican allies in Congress to work with the president to achieve a balanced deficit reduction plan," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
In his remarks to the American Legion conference, Romney also accused Obama of apologizing for America -- an allegation that non-partisan fact-checkers have consistently debunked. "The threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to be very real and, of course, we're still at war in Afghanistan. We still have uniformed men and women in conflict, risking their lives just as you once did... We salute them. We honor them. We respect and love them.
He continued, "All of this is happening around the world now. And yet for the past four years President Obama has allowed our leadership to diminish. In dealings with other nations he's given trust where not earned, insult where it's not deserved, and apology where it's not due."
At the outset of his remarks, Romney discussed Hurricane Isaac, which landed in Louisiana as the GOP convention was under way last night. "And I appreciate this invitation to join you on dry land this afternoon," he said. "Our thoughts are, of course, with the people of the Gulf Coast states. Seven years ago today they were bracing for Hurricane Katrina; this afternoon they're enduring Isaac."
And he explained why he was in Indianapolis instead of Tampa, where the Republicans are holding their convention; Romney was in Tampa on Tuesday for his wife's primetime speech.
"I’ll be heading back to Florida later today, and you may wonder why I’m not down there right now, practicing and polishing my final draft of my speech. My answer’s this: When our nation called, you answered. And I consider any opportunity to address our nation’s veterans a privilege not to be missed."