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Kerry to launch foreign policy broadside against Romney


Updated 6:40 p.m. - CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Sen. John Kerry will launch a broadside against Mitt Romney this evening on an issue -- foreign policy -- that has largely taken a backseat to a weeklong focus on the economy.

Jason Reed / REUTERS

Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry, D-Ma., stands at the podium during a walk through of the stage area ahead of the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012.

Kerry, the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will cast GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's foreign policy as either incomprehensible or a retread of the Bush administration.

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"In this campaign, we have a fundamental choice: Will we protect our country and our allies, advance our interests and ideals, do battle where we must, and make peace where we can?" Kerry will say, according to advance excerpts of his speech. "Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn't learned the lessons of the last decade?" 

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Democrats have criticized Romney for barely referencing foreign policy in his nomination acceptance speech last week in Tampa, making no reference at all to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that stretched must of the last decade. (Romney has defended himself by pointing to remarks he delivered the day before that focused largely on issues of foreign policy and national security.)

Ahead of tonight's speeches, the Romney campaign argued Thursday would be an excercise in rewriting history in Obama's record.

"An inventory of his record shows that by nearly all measures, President Obama has diminished American influence abroad and compromised our interests and values," wrote Romney policy director Lanhee Chen.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to NBC's Brian Williams about keeping life balanced for her daughters. She is focused on keeping their lives as normal as possible while allowing them to appreciate their chance to witness history.

Foreign policy hasn't been at the forefront of this week's Democratic National Convention, but Kerry will look to turn the spotlight tonight to that issue, on which Obama owns an advantage over Romney in the polls.

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Kerry will take aim at two of Romney's central criticisms of Obama in the speech, relating to Israel and the management of the war in Afghanistan. (Romney has accused Obama of throwing Israel "under the bus," and has criticized Obama's timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan too dangerous, though Romney wouldn't keep a full level of troops there for that much longer.)

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"Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel -- to tighten sanctions on Iran and take nothing off the table. Again and again the other side has lied about where this President stands and what this President has done," Kerry will say.

On Afghanistan, the Massachusetts senator (and potential future secretary of state in the Obama administration) will say: "It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position."