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Obama parries GOP on foreign policy

Ahead of an evening at the Republican National Convention expected to take aim at President Barack Obama's foreign policy and Mitt Romney doing the same today before the Foreign Legion, the president himself questioned Wednesday whether his GOP opponent Mitt Romney would be able to back up his "tough talk."

Speaking at a rally with college students in Charlottesville, Va., the president took aim at his Republican opponent on issues of energy and foreign policy.

Obama accused Romney, for instance, of lacking detail in his plans to wind down the war in Afghanistan.

"He doesn't have a plan to bring home the 33,000 troops who will be coming home from Afghanistan next month," the president said in a mid-afternoon rally. "He likes to talk tough but he doesn't have a lot of details when it comes to -- to these critical issues."

And, as Republicans rally in Tampa, Obama made light of the Romney campaign's reaction to new fuel efficiency standards as "extreme."

"Just yesterday my opponent called my position on fuel efficiency standards extreme," Obama said. "It doesn’t seem extreme to me, more fuel-efficient cars. Maybe the steam engine is more his speed."

The president's trip today to Virginia -- and yesterday, to Colorado and Iowa -- amounted to a somewhat concerted effort to offer counterprogramming to the Republican National Convention.

Obama hadn't watched any of this week's festivities, according to his spokesman, though that didn't stop him from taking direct aim at the Tampa gathering in his speech.

"This week in Tampa, my opponents will offer you their agenda. It should be a pretty entertaining show," he said. It will be. And I’m sure they’ll have some wonderful things to say about me," Obama said Tuesday to about 6,000 students at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa Tuesday.

“But what you won’t hear from them is a path forward that meets the challenges of our time. Instead, it will be an economic plan that says if you just give folks making $3 million or more a year another $250,000 tax cut, then jobs and prosperity will magically rain down on everybody else.”

That criticism both downplays the importance of the event, at which Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will introduce himself to a national audience, and builds it back up as an event representative of what Obama says is the GOP platform: all rhetoric with no policies.

on Wednesday, here at the nTelos Pavilion, he actually encouraged the crowd of 7,500 to “pay a little attention” to the convention but suggested they wouldn’t be satisfied by it.

“You can listen very carefully, very hard, and you wont’ hear them offer a clear, serious path forward,” he said.

Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the president was campaigning during the convention in order to draw a contrast between Republicans’ message, which she suggested was short on details, and his own.

“Conventions are opportunities for both parties to present who they're fighting for and what they stand for and while we didn't hear a lot of answers from the Republicans speaking at the conventions, the president feels it's necessary to keep laying out the choice in this election.”

RNC spokesman Tim Miller argued the opposite point about Obama’s convention-time counterprogramming: “Greek Columns Obama is an expert on showmanship with no follow-through, while our convention is offering a plan for helping the middle class and turning this sputtering economy around.”