Mitt Romney speaks to a group of veterans in Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 6. Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images
Foreign policy, specifically the war in Iraq and U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, were front and center in both the Democratic and Republican nominating contests at this point four years ago.
Shortly thereafter, foreign policy took a back seat to an economy in tailspin as the dominant issue in American political discourse.
However, that never stopped Mitt Romney from always being eager to carve out a sharp contrast from President Obama on various international issues.
Keen Romney observers (and readers of his book “No Apology”) will note that while he was mostly shunning the spotlight in the 2009-2011 pre-campaign season, Romney always seemed eager to pop up on cable TV or with a well placed op-ed to critique the president’s approach to his role on the world stage.
Today, Romney plans to turn that critique into a blistering campaign rallying cry when he takes the stage at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., for what his advisers describe as a major foreign policy speech.
“American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this president, all three of those elements have been weakened,” Romney plans to say according to excerpts released by his campaign.
“As president, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy and I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.”
More from the speech:
“I will not surrender America’s role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president.”
“You have that president today,” he plans to say.
“The speech represents a full-frontal attack on the president, but it also delivers backhanded slaps against fellow Republicans also vying for the nomination. In the speech, Romney says that the nation must not “crawl into an isolationist shell,” in what appears to be a reference to reservations among his fellow candidates to avoid foreign entanglements, whether in Libya or other future hotspots.
“In the speech, Romney will also pledge to institute eight policy measures in his first 100 days. Those include a review of the Afghanistan withdrawal and transition plan; increasing the nation’s naval power by increasing shipbuilding; strengthening ties to allies such as Israel; and recommitting to a missile defense system.”
Be sure to check back on the Rundown later in the day and tune in to the PBS NewsHour Friday night to see Judy Woodruff’s interview with Mitt Romney. Judy will sit down with the candidate immediately following his speech in Charleston.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shocked his Republican colleagues last night by resorting to what could be called the “nuclear option” in an effort to block an uncomfortable vote for Democrats while also, according to Reid, stop endless delaying tactics from the GOP minority.
The details are complicated, but on a mostly party-line vote, Democrats voted 51-48 last night to change the rules of the Senate so that a tactic called a motion to suspend the rules can no longer be used after the Senate has voted to invoke cloture, or end debate on a bill.
While these rules are arcane, last night’s action was directly related to the political fight over jobs and spending — but also about a breakdown in the Senate’s ability to function smoothly. In an effort to demonstrate that Democrats did not have the votes to pass President Obama’s jobs plan as introduced by the White House, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was using the motion to suspend tactic to force a proxy vote on whether to allow the jobs bill as an amendment to the pending China currency bill.
Seeking to avoid that vote, but also put an end to what Reid called “dilatory tactics,” Reid called a vote to essentially set a new precedent: After the debate period on a bill is over, a motion to suspend the rules is now against the rules.
The vote caused what could be called a group confrontation on the Senate floor, with multiple Senators standing to address what had just happened. Republicans said the vote was an attempt to squash the minority’s right to offer amendments, while Democrats argued that Republicans started everything by using every possible delay tactic, even on the consideration of qualified judges.
Alexander Bolton from the Hill has some more detail on the showdown:
“McConnell, visibly angry and shaken, said Reid’s action Thursday evening threatened the powers of the minority that distinguish the upper chamber from the House of Representatives.
“We are fundamentally turning the Senate into the House,” he cried on the Senate floor. “The minority’s out of business.”
“One Democratic source noted that former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) used Reid’s nuclear tactic on May 17, 2000, when he overturned a ruling from the chair to ban non-germane sense-of-the-Senate amendments from being offered to appropriations bills.
“Reid defended his action as necessary because filibusters and other dilatory actions have tied the Senate up in knots. Many junior members of his caucus, such as Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), have become extremely frustrated by the length of time it takes to even complete the chamber’s routine business.”
Important context for this development: with Democrats defending far more Senate seats in the 2012 cycle that the GOP, Republicans stand a chance of retaking the majority and putting Reid and the Democrats in the minority, where the types of rules they just deleted might be used to delay or change the Republican agenda.
The Senate race in Massachusetts is already off to a silly start, with incumbent Republican Scott Brown and possible Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren trading jabs about the other being naked.
A Massachusetts radio host asked Brown to respond to Warren’s comment that she didn’t take her clothes off to pay for college, a jab at Brown who posed naked for Cosmopolitan magazine while he was in law school.
“Thank God,” Brown joked.
The AP’s Steve LeBlanc has more on the story:
“Massachusetts Democratic Party Executive Director Clare Kelly labeled Brown’s comments “mudslinging” and said they “are the kind of thing you would expect to hear in a frat house, not a race for U.S. Senate.”
“Scott Brown’s comments send a terrible message that even accomplished women who are held in the highest esteem can be laughingly dismissed based on their looks,” Kelly said.
Warren has emerged as an early frontrunner in the Democratic primary race.
A recent UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll showed Brown getting 41 percent of the vote and Warren receiving 38 percent, within the poll’s margin of error.”
ON THE TRAIL
By Terence Burlij
All events listed in Eastern Time.
- President Obama meets with the Senate Democratic Leadership at 10:25 a.m. and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at 11:30 a.m. Both of those sessions are closed press. He later welcomes the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears to the South Lawn of the White House at 3:05 p.m. and at 3:45 p.m. holds a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Tunisia.
- Mitt Romney delivers his foreign policy speech at 10:45 a.m. in Charleston, S.C.
- Rick Santorum addresses the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., at 11:40 a.m.
- Herman Cain promotes his new book in Arlington, Va., at 12 p.m. and addresses the Values Voter Summit at 4:15 p.m.
- Rick Perry addresses the Values Voter Summit at 2:20 p.m. and then heads to Iowa where he gives remarks at the Johnson County GOP Fall BBQ in Tiffin at 7:15 p.m.
- Ron Paul holds a press conference in Greenville, N.C., at 2:30 p.m. and sticks around for a 5:30 p.m. rally & BBQ.
- Newt Gingrich addresses the Values Voter Summit at 4:30 p.m.
- Michele Bachmann addresses the Values Voter Summit at 7:30 p.m.
All future campaign events can be found on our Political Calendar.