Romney hits Obama on looming defense cuts

Mitt Romney attacked President Obama’s record on the military on Saturday in an attempt to drum up further support in one of the most conservative parts of Florida.

At a rally in Pensacola, Romney, the GOP nominee for president, tried to put the full blame for looming defense cuts on the president. 

The former Massachusetts governor even referenced a much-quoted back-and-forth on horses and bayonets from Monday’s debate as he made the broader case that President Obama just wasn’t up to the job.

“It’s extraordinary that the president’s agenda keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller,” Romney said. “Not just for our military, but for Medicare, for jobs. This is not a president who has been able to stand up to the challenge of the times.”

Romney’s comments came in the conservative panhandle of Florida, which is packed with military voters, and come as he and Obama are locked in a tight race for the White House just 10 days before voters head to the polls.

ADVERTISEMENT
The GOP nominee’s message also dovetails with his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has also been making the case this week that Obama’s first term record has been weak, leaving the president little to run on this campaign season.

In Pensacola, Romney continued to chide Obama for overseeing a decline in the size of the Navy and charged that Obama is responsible for $1 trillion in looming defense cuts.

Automatic spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect early next year because of last year’s budget deal, and Romney said defense cuts signed off on by Obama would cost Florida 41,000 jobs. The president and congressional leaders from both parties, including Ryan, signed on to the deal.

The president also said in Monday’s debate that the so-called sequestration cuts to defense wouldn’t happen, and leaders on both sides of the aisle are looking to craft a budget deal after the election that would at least stave off the cuts.

Romney also mentioned his now-famous exchange with Obama, in which the president icily responded to Romney’s claims that the Navy was building fewer ships by saying the military also used fewer horses and bayonets.

In a fact check, The Wall Street Journal noted this week that the Army and Marines had more than 600,000 bayonets between them.

“In fact, we do use bayonets,” Romney said, to cheers from the Pensacola crowd. “I believe in a modern Navy. That’s why my plan is to increase the number of ships that we’re building, to maintain our strong commitment to the military.”

For his part, Obama has tried to use Romney’s promises to increase spending against the former Massachusetts governor.

Romney and Ryan have also said they will roll back deficits, which have been north of $1 trillion for four consecutive years. But Obama has questioned how Romney will pull that off while also funneling more money toward defense and slashing tax rates across-the-board.

Romney has said his tax plan will be offset by getting rid of tax breaks. But independent analysts have questioned the GOP nominee’s tax math and whether he can follow through on all the planks in his plan.

“Unlike Governor Romney’s plan -- he doesn’t like to talk about it too much -- I have a plan that will actually create jobs; that will actually lower our deficit; and will actually provide the middle class with a greater sense of security,” Obama said Saturday in a campaign event in New Hampshire.