Romney blasts Obama on foreign policy
(CBS News) LONDON - Immediately before departing Tuesday for a seven-day visit to Europe and the Middle East, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a blistering attack on President Obama's foreign policy.
In front of several thousand veterans in Reno, Nev., he criticized everything from the president's approach to Iran and the way he deals with Russia to leaks that allegedly came out of the White House.
But he didn't offer much in the way of an alternative vision.
"This isn't a partisan issue; it's a national security crisis," Romney asserted to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
He sharply criticized Mr. Obama for the alleged leak of classified intelligence information for political gain, reinforcing his argument that the president is putting his re-election ahead of national security.
"This conduct is contemptible," Romney said. "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field."
He was referring to recent leaks of top-secret information about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden raid and about successful U.S. drone strikes.
The Obama administration denies any responsibility.
But Monday, key Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the White House is connected to the disclosures.
"I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks," Feinstein said.
Tuesday, she downplayed her remarks, saying, "I shouldn't have speculated" and "I don't know the source of the leaks."
But the damage was done. Her accusation gave Romney ammunition.
"What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I'll tell you right now: Mine will not," Romney said.
The speech was part of a full-frontal assault on the president's foreign policy, which Romney argued has weakened the United States' standing around the world.
But Romney gave few specifics on what his alternative would be.
He criticized Mr. Obama for announcing a withdrawal date of troops in Afghanistan - while also advocating the same timeline for ending combat operations, in 2014.
Speaking at the same venue Monday, the president argued that Romney's criticism lacks specifics.
"There are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war, or against talking about it publicly," Mr. Obama said. "But you know what? That's not a plan for America's security, either."
Romney told the audience he was taking the opportunity to criticize the president's foreign policy right before he left for Europe because he would never go abroad to criticize American foreign policy, out of respect for the long-held notion that American politics stops at the water's edge.
To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.
- Jan Crawford
Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.Follow on Twitter »
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