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Obama, Romney campaigns spar over Afghanistan

September 02, 2012|By Maeve Reston
  • Mitt Romney's top communications advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, defended Romney over the candidate's lack of a mention of Afghanistan during his speech at the Republican National Convention.
Mitt Romney's top communications advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, defended… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

BOSTON -- One of Mitt Romney’s top advisors defended the candidate’s omission of any mention of the war in Afghanistan during his convention speech in Tampa, Fla., last week. 

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom noted that the candidate delivered a speech to the American Legion convention in Indianapolis the day before his convention speech.

"Gov. Romney thought it was a privilege to be speaking to people who had served so nobly and in that speech, he talked about Afghanistan,” Fehrnstrom told CNN’s Candy Crowley. (Fehrnstrom did not mention that the audience for the American Legion speech was much smaller than the millions who tuned in for his convention speech or the fact that Romney’s comments on Afghanistan at that event were very brief.)

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In his prepared remarks to the American Legion, which were posted on his website, Romney spoke about the war in Afghanistan when highlighting the dangers to America around the world.

“The world continues to be a dangerous place.  Major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, sometimes with intentions very different from our own,” Romney said in the speech, noting the threat of a nuclear Iran.

“With instability in Pakistan and horrific violence in Syria, and with North Korea having shared nuclear technology, the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to be very real,” the Republican nominee continued. “And we are still at war in Afghanistan. We still have uniformed men and women in conflict, risking their lives just as you once did.”

“All of this and more is happening around the world right now,” Romney told the American Legion. “And yet, for the past four years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to diminish. In dealings with other nations, he has given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.” 

The Obama campaign sent out an email to reporters Sunday morning noting that was Romney’s only mention. 

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And President Obama criticized Romney for the omission while campaigning in Iowa earlier this weekend: “Gov. Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan last week -- didn't mention it, didn't offer a plan in terms of how he might end the war or if he's not going to end it,” Obama said Saturday in Sioux City. 

“He's got to let the American people know -- because by the end of this month, we will have brought 33,000 of our troops home,” the president continued.

Asked about the president’s remarks, Fehrnstrom said Romney’s convention speech was focused on introducing himself to Americans just tuning into the campaign and laying out his agenda.

We thought that speech was a home run,” Fehrnstrom said Sunday on CNN.

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