(RENO, Nev.) — On the eve of his week-long trip abroad, Mitt Romney today condemned President Obama’s handling of recent security leaks to the media, including details from the attack that led to the death Osama Bin Laden, describing it as “contemptible” and urging the president to accept responsibility for leaks that might have stemmed from his administration.
“This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national-security crisis,” Romney said in remarks delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence.
“Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.” The Romney campaign has cited a report in which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pointed to the Obama administration as the potential source of the leaks.
“I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Feinstein reportedly told a World Affairs Council forum.
Romney today said, “Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the president believes — as he said last week — that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.
“And let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t. ”
Romney pounced on Obama for taking a backseat on impending defense cuts that take place in January if Congress does not come to agreement on deficit reduction. Romney said the defense cuts will “severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.” “Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own secretary of defense warned that these reductions would be ‘devastating.’ And he is right,” Romney said.
Romney’s speech to the VFW comes before a week-long foreign trip, the first of this campaign for the presumptive GOP nominee, who will travel to London, Israel and Poland in the next week to meet with world leaders.
Although many people expected him to outline new concrete foreign-policy initiatives before the trip, Romney presented few policy specifics in his VFW speech, instead focusing primarily on slamming the president on leaks and sequestration.
Romney campaign officials previewing his speech told reporters the presumptive GOP nominee would call for a “complete cessation of uranium enrichment” in Iran in order to ensure the country ends its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
“That can be the only basis of any deal, is complete cessation of uranium enrichment,” former Sen. Jim Talent said on a briefing call. “It’s an internationally recognized requirement. It’s expressed in multiple security council resolutions. It’s essential for a number of reasons, not the least of which is verifying that Iran has stopped its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. It can only be viable if there’s a complete cessation, not gradations of uranium enrichment.”
Officials also said Romney would expand on his policies regarding Egypt and the Arab Spring but offered no explicit details. Asked whether Romney would discuss policy in Afghanistan, Alex Wong, Romney’s foreign policy director, said Romney will “make clear his policy on Afghanistan in a way that he has over the past months and the past years, drawing contrasts with the way President Obama has handled the Afghanistan policy.”
Romney has frequently criticized Obama for announcing a timetable for troop withdrawal, and Romney has explained he would consider advice from military commanders on the ground when making decisions about withdrawing troops from the region.
Romney criticized Obama for lacking a clear and decisive foreign-policy vision and presented himself as the alternative to ensuring that American retains a leading position in the world.
“I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country,” he said. “I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced.”
“I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century,” Romney said. “If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio