Mitt Romney waves to the crowd after speaking during the 113th National… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)
PORTLAND, Ore. – In a coordinated response to Mitt Romney’s speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, the White House and Obama campaign challenged the Republican hopeful to provide greater detail about his foreign policy vision, arguing that he has yet to meet the “very high bar” set by the president.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Portland on Tuesday, said Romney’s speech was “the polar opposite" of one Obama had made as a candidate before the same group four years ago, in which he made “very specific promises” on issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism, many of which he has since delivered on.
“The president talks frequently about the challenges we face in Afghanistan, the challenges we face in Iraq, the challenge we face now in Syria and the broader Arab Spring, in Asia, the need to focus and rebalance our efforts towards Asia – I find those specifics lacking so far in what I've heard from the other side,” Carney said.
Standing to Carney’s right, the Obama campaign’s traveling spokesperson said that rather than begin a serious discussion with the American people about his approach to the major international concerns, Romney launched “baseless attacks” on the issue of leaks.
“Mitt Romney has a very high bar he has not yet jumped over to convince the American people that he wants to have a serious conversation about foreign policy,” the spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said.
Psaki, who traveled abroad with then-candidate Obama at a similar point in the 2008 campaign, said Romney’s planned trip this week is another example of a substance gap. Romney has only “some fundraising” and “photo ops,” while Sen. Obama met with foreign leaders, held news conferences, sat for network interviews and provided for extensive media coverage.
“That's an entirely different scale than what we're looking at over the next couple of days,” she said.
After Psaki spoke, NBC News announced it would interview Romney from London, one of his three major stops on the week-long trip.
The contrast over foreign policy is one the Obama campaign thinks plays to its advantage. On the other hand, Psaki also previewed a new campaign ad in which the president answers directly Republican criticism over his recent “you didn’t build that” remark about businesses – indicating how his campaign is still playing defense.
“Those ads taking my words about small business out of context - they’re flat out wrong. Of course Americans build their own businesses,” Obama says in the spot, set to air in six battleground states as soon as Wednesday.
The president also addressed Romney’s attacks over the sound bite during an evening fundraiser Monday in Oakland, accusing his rival of "twisting" his words.
“We are not going to stand by while Mitt Romney slices and dices and deliberately takes out of context the president's remarks on businesses,” Psaki said.