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Mitt Romney’s Bizarre Explanation For Why He Didn’t Mention Afghanistan At The GOP Convention

During their recently concluded convention, several Democrats, including most prominently Vice President Biden and Senator John Kerry, criticized Mitt Romney for failing to say a single word about Afghanistan or America’s troops during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention in Tampa. These were rather ironic moments to me because, usually, it’s the Republicans who criticize the Democrats for not paying proper respect to American troops and being weak on foreign policy. I am sure there were several Democrats in Charlotte who relished the opportunity to turn the tables on the GOP this time.

Well, Mitt Romney was asked by Fox News’s Bret Bair why he didn’t mention Afghanistan in his speech, and his response is incredibly tone deaf:

BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech.

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Really Mitt? You didn’t mention Afghanistan because you didn’t think it was important? You sure you don’t want to rethink that one?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    Another lame gotcha question by a hick reporter. Mitt Romney’s opinions about Afghanistan and American servicemen and women are irrelevant to this election. Mitt should have simply invited the reporter to look up previous statements on the campaign website.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 6

  2. Tony W says:

    At least he had on a flag lapel pin!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  3. Me Me Me says:

    Over a week has passed and he still hadn’t thought about this question and formulated a response?
    He genuinely doesn’t care about the troops.
    He thinks about “the military” in terms of shoveling taxpayer dollars to defense contractors.
    His campaign staff is incompetent.
    He is incapable of taking advice.

    Or, as I have suspected since the London fiasco, he is in the early stages of Alzheimers.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tony W:

    At least he had on a flag lapel pin!

    Actually, if you look closely, you’ll see it’s a Cayman Islands flag lapel pin.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 0

  5. JoshB says:

    @Me Me Me:

    Exactly. He has spent his entire life surrounded by yes men, so he believes that he is the smartest man in the room. He is the perfect embodiment of why everyone needs to be challenged in life. If you spend all your time getting fluffed, you end up pompous and smug.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  6. Tom Hilton says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Mitt Romney’s opinions about Afghanistan and American servicemen and women are irrelevant to this election.

    Well, yes…but only because he’s going to lose. If he had a chance of winning, his opinions would be highly relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  7. Gerry says:

    Doug-
    You fail at reading comprehension: the question was about Romney not caring about the military. Romney answered that question by describing his desire for a strong military and that it’s important.

    It takes a special kind of convoluted reasoning to come up with this criticism. Guess that’s why you’re a pundit.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 29

  8. Me Me Me says:

    @Gerry: Let us check your reading comprehension skills, Gerry:

    BAIER: …you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan

    ROMNEY: …When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. This is an interesting wedge, of course, because post 9/11 support for the military and support for foreign adventures were sold as one in the same. The way you “supported the troops” to put it rudely, was to give them wars to fight.

    Romney is still on that message, and so cannot see the Obama argument that you support the actual troops, when they come home from those wars.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  10. @Rafer Janders:

    If I could vote twice for the Cayman joke, I would.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  11. Gerry says:

    Me Me Me-
    Why don’t you read that snippet again and then, I know this is hard, think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  12. PJ says:

    @john personna:

    If I could vote twice for the Cayman joke, I would.

    DEMOCRAT VOTER FRAUD.

    (I would vote thrice. And then I would write a worm that would make every computer infected by it vote for the joke.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. jukeboxgrad says:

    it’s a Cayman Islands flag lapel pin

    Yes, and probably made in China.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  14. jukeboxgrad says:

    When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list

    From a commenter at LGF:

    “Troops are like my socks; they’re on the laundry list… if I put some holes in a few, I just buy some more.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  15. jukeboxgrad says:

    gerry:

    the question was about Romney not caring about the military

    You’re confused about the terms ‘military’ and ‘troops.’ Someone else at LGF did a nice job of explaining this:

    “The military” also referrs to the weapons systems, the contractors, the administrators, the support personnel, etc.

    “The troops” refers to the people who risk their lives, the ones who come home with physical and psychological injuries that the government needs to treat if it wishes to truly “support the troops” and not just hand out more no-bid, cost-plus contracts to defense firms.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  16. Gerry says:

    jukeboxgrad-
    Reall? ‘Military’ doesn’t include ‘troops’? WTF?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  17. Gerry says:

    s/Reall/Really/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  18. stonetools says:

    I am willing to give Mitt a little latitude on this, since he says he has spoken about Afghanistan else where. Still, I have a few questions:

    1. What, exactly, IS The Romney position on Afghanistan.
    2. What, if anything, will he do for returning veterans.
    3. If he is against “government health care”, what do he think of the Veterans Administration?

    There are more questions, but that will be a good start.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  19. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This is another “I shot the clerk” thing.

    Without even realizing it Baier actually asked no less than three separate but interrelated questions in that one “question,” and then conflated and confused matters by combining two separate but related items into one “issue.” Not that Baier was intending to trip up Romney, it just sort of happened that way. This sort of phenomenon is one of the primary reasons why you can and often do object at trials to compound questions, but that’s another topic for another time and place.

    What Romney is saying here is as follows: (1) he doesn’t regret not literally mentioning the word “troops” in his speech, because he did refer to the military and to his commitment to it, (2) he doesn’t regret not mentioning “Afghanistan” in the speech, for the same reason; (3) his regret concerning these topics is that the media and the Democrats are harping on them, not the particular semantics he used in the speech; (4) he didn’t have a laundry list of specific words that he wanted to mention in the speech, he spoke about the broader topics that he felt were of import, which germane to this line of questioning included the dichotomy between the Obama administration’s stated desire to spend less on the military and Romney’s pledge on the other hand to increase overall military spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  20. @stonetools:

    Googling you can find where Romney supports the veterans, but there is also this:

    Romney Tells Veterans That Obama ‘Dodged the Tough Choices’

    Mitt Romney promised veterans at a convention on Wednesday that he would stop “reckless defense cuts” set for the end of the year and slammed President Obama as a commander in chief who has “failed to lead” and has “dodged the tough choices.”

    He thinks that veterans are the group to support more war. I don’t think that’s right with a post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  21. al-Ameda says:

    ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

    And that, in a nutshell, is Romney.
    He can say so little, so easily and effortlessly, and still come across as solidly unprincipled.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  22. jukeboxgrad says:

    gerry:

    Reall? ‘Military’ doesn’t include ‘troops’? WTF?

    Here are some other words that “include” troops: Americans, humans, homo sapiens. So isn’t it enough to say that I care about humans? After all, ‘human’ doesn’t include ‘troops?’

    If I want to show that I’m thinking about the troops, here’s a good word to use: “troops.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  23. stonetools says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    So he doesn’t have a position on the Afghan War?I’m sorry but wanting to increase defense spending, no matter what, is NOT a position on what the US should do in Afghanistan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  24. Gerry says:

    jukeboxgrad-
    Good grief. You really are a piece of work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  25. Me Me Me says:

    I care about Republicans and many Republicans are troops therefore I care about troops.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @stonetools:

    What, exactly, IS The Romney position on Afghanistan.

    Oh, that’s simple. Whatever Obama is for, he’s against it. Updated as needed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  27. James in LA says:

    It makes perfect sense. Bair just has not yet realized he was interviewing a cold block of granite. It It was clear Mitt was eager to be getting on back down to the cheese vault rather than talk about those pesky troops. I don’t think he wants to be President. Ann “no more questions from you people” Romney certainly does not want to be First Lady. In each interview she gives, the eyes are a little rounder, and a little more white can be seen, the horse realizing the barn she’s in may just be on fire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Me Me Me says:

    @stonetools:

    What, exactly, IS The Romney position on Afghanistan.

    I’m afraid I can’t answer that question, but we do know what his position on neighboring Pakistan is.

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Barack Obama on Friday for vowing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary as the Obama camp issued a strident defense of his plan. “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours… I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,” Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. Obama on Wednesday said if elected president in November 2008 he would be willing to launch military strikes against al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan with or without the approval of the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops “shouldn’t be sent all over the world.” He called Obama’s comments “ill-timed” and “ill-considered.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. michael reynolds says:

    The fact that this story isn’t bigger is evidence of the prejudice in the media on the parties and the troops, and national security generally. The “liberal” media have a built-in assumption that Republicans are stronger on defense. In fact, they aren’t. But if the parties were reversed on this, the story would be five times bigger.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 0

  30. Lib Cap says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Another lame gotcha question by a hick reporter.

    You know… I have been saying that about Fox News for quite some time. I’m glad to see that the right has now drifted SO far right that even Fox News is now part of the liberal media conspiracy.

    (Did you know they also think that Romney should release his tax returns? The NERVE !!!)

    Mitt Romney’s opinions about Afghanistan and American servicemen and women are irrelevant to this election.

    Really? As 9/11 has had one of the greatest impacts on America in this century, causing us to spend our fortune (contributing massively to our deficit), and spill precious blood of our fellow citizens, you don’t think this is important? “Irrelevent” even?

    Wow…. just wow.

    Mitt should have simply invited the reporter to look up previous statements on the campaign website.

    Sure… Since Mitt can’t remember what his position on ANYTHING is, that would be the safest thing for him to do.

    For his campaign’s benefit, he should answer as few questions as possible… just like his fiscal plan, where he won’t say what that plan would be, or what “loopholes” would be eliminated to offset the tax cuts for the rich. However, I think you can kiss your mortgage interest deduction buh-bye.

    Even better, with less than 60 days left before the election, it would likely benefit High Priest Willard (his real Mormon church title and real name, btw) to hide in the same undisclosed location as Cheney did… That way the National Review and others can continue to write imaginary positions for him, without worrying what Willard may actually say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. MM says:

    @michael reynolds: This is also evidence of the difference between the left and right blogosphere. If Obama had said something within a half-mile of not caring about the troops, this would be THE story on NRO, Malkin, Hot Air, PJ Media, Fox and Friends and the Sunday shows.

    Instead this will be treated like another Rafalca.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  32. anjin-san says:

    Romney answered that question by describing his desire for a strong military and that it’s important.

    We already have a strong military, the most powerful in the history of the world – one that faces no credible threat to it’s supremacy.

    When Romney talks about “a strong military” he is referring to an endless river of money flowing into the pockets of defense contractors. We are talking about a man who simply thinks more is always better. He actually seems to be pining for the days of the Great White Fleet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  33. Lynda says:

    Romney “And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.”

    This is a successor to the “Companies are people my friend”

    I get what he is saying in both cases – companies are made up of people and the military is made up of troops – but I just don’t think many people would reference them the same way. Both companies and military are made of other things beside the people so when you want to specify the actual people most people would use a different phrase.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. Rafer Janders says:

    @Lib Cap:

    Um…it was snark. I was mocking some of Doug’s responses in the previous Ann Romney post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  35. Tony W says:

    @Lynda: It is easier to do nasty things within an institution if you don’t have to think about the people those actions affect

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  36. michael reynolds says:

    By the way, our Business Genius, Mitt-The-Wonder-CEO here can’t run a campaign. His campaign – aside from money-raising – is a disaster.

    Either he doesn’t know how to get good advice, or he doesn’t know how to take it. It’s McCain 2008 all over again but with more money. Mitt Romney’s solution to everything, more money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. Moosebreath says:

    Not sure why my comment was trapped as spam, but can it be released?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. stonetools says:

    Sadly, I believe that we do not hear about Romney’s position on Afghanistan because he hasn’t figured out what the popular Republican position on Afghanistan now is. Once he has figured out what that is, then he will have a position on Afghanistan.
    We do know his position on Russia , though. He’s against Russia because, once upon a time,Republicans were always against Russia.That’s pretty much how he decides his policy positions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  39. Me Me Me says:

    @stonetools: Actually, he is against the Soviet Union.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Libral cap says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Holy cow !!!

    My appologies then. Seriously.

    I think I have been hanging out with too many brainwashed GOP at work that no longer realize their parthy has left them… Left them to a far-far right position.

    Your snark was their everyday comments.

    I hope you understand how I may have though this.

    sadly… I do. :(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  41. Argon says:

    Yep, Romney demonstrates once again his thoughtless cruelty and disrespect. He really comes off as the hollow man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Billablog says:

    Romney says he thinks “military” and “troops” mean the same thing.
    Kind of like thinking corporations are people.

    Again, Romney makes it clear that he doesn’t understand the distinction between institutions and individuals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  43. Fiona says:

    @Billablog:
    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Romney is incapable of distinguishing the institution from the flesh and blood people who comprise it. He just doesn’t seem to understand that the military and the troops are not the same thing and that shoveling more money into the military does not equate supporting the troops. Hence, he comes off as a droid.

    A human answer would have acknowledged the sacrifices of the people who serve our country and, perhaps, suggesting a couple of ways in which his proposed programs would help them. I don’t think Romney’s capable of such a response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  44. jukeboxgrad says:

    I think I have been hanging out with too many brainwashed GOP at work that no longer realize their parthy has left them… Left them to a far-far right position. Your snark was their everyday comments.

    This is the concept of Poe’s Law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. The Original Bob says:

    @Billablog: If Romney shares that common Republican world view of “you’re on your own” then perhaps he sees the distinction between institutions and individuals as not being his concern. That seems to be how he ran Bain Capital.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  47. trevor says:

    @Rafer Janders: WOW…did you just say that Romney’s opinions about afghanistan and troops are “irrelevant” to the election??? Your ALMOST a bigger jackass than he is…at least he has people writing his speeches…what’s your excuse???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0