U.S. President Barack Obama has failed to stop Iran's nuclear program and has thrown Israel "under the bus," former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said on Thursday night, as he officially accepted the Republican U.S. presidential nomination.
While his speech to the Republican National Convention focused mainly on the economy and creating more jobs, Romney attempted to weaken what is considered Obama's greatest foreign policy achievement by accusing him of putting American lives at risk with his Iran policy.
Romney acknowledged that Obama gave the order that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, but he described the U.S. president's other defense and foreign policy moves as having weakened the nation and betrayed its allies.
The GOP nominee said by failing to slow Iran's nuclear threat, Obama has made every American less secure.
He accused Obama of having "thrown allies like Israel under the bus" and slammed his position on Iran. "Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We're still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning," Romney charged.
He went on to say that Obama had "abandoned" Poland by "walking away from" U.S. commitments on missile defense and referred to an overheard conversation between Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin, in which Obama suggested he'd have "more flexibility" on missile defense after the election. Romney said if he is elected, Putin will see "a little less flexibility and more backbone."
On the economy, the Republican nominee proclaimed that America needs "jobs, lots of jobs" and promised to create 12 million of them in perilous economic times.
"Now is the time to restore the promise of America," Romney declared to a nation struggling with 8.3 percent unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.
Often viewed as a distant politician, he made a press-the-flesh entrance into the hall, walking slowly down one of the convention aisles and shaking hands with dozens of delegates. The hall erupted in cheers when he reached the stage and he waved to his shouting, chanting supporters before beginning to speak.
"I accept your nomination for president," he said, to a roar of approval. Then he pivoted into personal details of family life, recounting his youth as a Mormon, the son of parents devoted to one another, and a married man with five rambunctious sons.
He choked up at least twice, including when he recalled how he and his wife Ann would wake up to find "a pile of kids asleep in our room."
Romney aimed numerous jabs at Obama, who he will battle in a close and uncertain race for the White House, and drew cheers when he vowed to repeal Obama's signature health care law.
"This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he'll get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office," Romney declared.
Clint Eastwood, legendary Hollywood tough guy, put the case for ousting Obama plainly moments before Romney made his entrance. "When somebody does not do the job, you've got to let 'em go," he said to the cheers of thousands in the packed convention hall.
Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrats will counter with their own convention which begins next Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.
Beyond the heartfelt personal testimonials and political hoopla, Thursday evening marked one of a very few opportunities any presidential challenger is granted to appeal to millions of voters in a single night.
The two-month campaign to come includes other big moments — principally a series of one-on-one debates with Democrat Obama — in a race for the White House that has been close for months. An excess of $500 million has been spent on campaign television commercials so far, almost all of it in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
Romney holds a fundraising advantage over Obama, and his high command hopes to expand the electoral map soon if post-convention polls in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and perhaps elsewhere indicate it's worth the investment.
Romney was cutting in his criticism of Obama.
"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," he said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division."
"This isn't something we have to accept," he said, appealing to millions of voters who say they are disappointed in the president yet haven't yet decided to cast their votes for his Republican challenger.
"Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, 'I'm an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better! My country deserves better!"
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