Rice, McCain criticize Obama foreign policies without mentioning bin Laden
Condoleezza Rice was a Republican National Convention crowd favorite. Rice and Sen. John McCain hammered Obama on defense spending, and foreign policy. But no mention was made of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Republicans delivered a scathing indictment of President Barack Obama's national security policy, although the Democrat's aggressive approach has often been compared to that of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.Skip to next paragraph
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Defense and foreign policy, largely a footnote during the first two days of the Republican convention, were the core of speeches by Sen. John McCain, Obama's presidential rival in 2008, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's secretary of state. Neither uttered Obama's name Wednesday night in their prime-time remarks, but the target of their criticism was clear.
"For four years, we've drifted away from our proudest traditions of global leadership," McCain said. "We've let the challenges we face, both at home and abroad, become harder to solve."
He faulted Obama for cuts to projected defense spending, a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan and an unwillingness to use more U.S. military force to stop the months of bloodshed in Syria. McCain drew the loudest applause when he criticized the government over suspected national security leaks.
Rice acknowledged the nation's weariness from the two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Bush started but said, "If we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen — no one will lead and that will foster chaos — or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. ... We do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead — and one cannot lead from behind."
Republicans have seized on the words "leading from behind" that an unnamed Obama adviser used in a New Yorker article, even though the idea is to empower others while avoiding the perception of unilateral U.S. action.
Rice recalled standing at her desk the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and learning of the terrorist attacks. She made no mention of Osama bin Laden and Obama's order as commander in chief for the Navy SEALS' operation that killed the terrorist leader.
"Our friends and allies must be able to trust us," she said. "From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. ... Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands."
National security has barely warranted a mention at the convention as jobs and the economy remain the dominant issues for the electorate. The short shrift also reflects a political reality of the past four years — Republicans have made little headway in challenging Obama's aggressive security policies.
Obama has waged a secret campaign against Al Qaeda in two countries — one on the Arab Peninsula, the other on Africa's east coast. Navy SEALs took out bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 and armed drones have pursued Al Qaeda terrorists within the country, degrading the group.