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John Kerry says onus is on Romney to offer specifics

October 22, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) before Monday night's presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) before Monday night's presidential… (David Goldman / Associated…)

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) called Monday’s debate “a night of reckoning” for Mitt Romney, repeatedly saying the onus is on the Republican nominee to “show specificity” with regard to his foreign policy vision.

“The Romney campaign is trying to say to people, 'Well, if he just comes out there and shows he’s competent, he’ll be OK.' No. That’s not the standard for commander in chief,” Kerry told reporters in the spin room at Lynn University, the site of the third and final presidential debate.

“When I stood up with George Bush, I had to show that I had better ideas and I had to show specificity for what I wanted to do. And I believe everybody judged that I won that debate on foreign policy because I did that. Well tonight, you have to judge the specificity.”

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Kerry said Romney had failed to do that on a host of issues, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the "Arab Spring" and to the U.S. relationships with global powers like China and Russia. And where he has taken firm stands, they have at times been at odds with even members of his own party, offering a vote on the START treaty as one example.

“Tonight’s the night of reckoning. And I think you can’t just come in here and be a different Mitt Romney. You can’t Etch A Sketch your way through foreign policy,” he said.

Kerry spoke from the perspective not only of someone who faced off against an incumbent commander in chief in a presidential debate in 2004, but as the stand-in for Romney in President Obama’s practice sessions for the last months.

“I was chosen from binders of senators,” the Massachusetts senator quipped.

After one final debate prep session Sunday night at Camp David, the president’s team offered him a round of applause, according to a campaign aide.

“I [performed] my job well enough that when I went home my dog was growling at me,” Kerry said.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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