The Obama campaign on Monday stepped up its attacks on Mitt Romney's foreign policy record, with a prominent surrogate blasting the GOP candidate as a novice whose policies amounted to little more than "tough talk and chest-thumping."
In a conference call with reporters, retired Gen. Wesley Clark focused on Romney’s failure to mention the troops in Afghanistan during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, saying it was “more than an omission” and highlighted the nominee's inexperience.
“It reveals a severe lack of understanding of the job of president ... and frankly it’s unbecoming of someone who wants to be the commander in chief,” Clark said.
“They’re not an item on a laundry list, they’re a priority,” he said of the troops.
Clark's “laundry list” comment was in response to a Fox News interview Romney gave last week in which he was asked if he regretted not mentioning the troops in his speech.
"I only regret you're repeating it day in and day out,” Romney said. “When you give a speech you don't go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important, and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military, unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word 'troops,' I used the word 'military.' I think they refer to the same thing.”
Democrats are hoping to seize the high ground from Republicans on military and foreign policy matters, traditionally a Republican strong suit.
The Obama campaign is touting its draw-down of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the president's decision to approve the mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Working to build on those achievements, Democrats have hit the Romney-Ryan ticket as unprepared on foreign policy.
In his convention speech in Charlotte, N.C., Obama directly ripped his GOP opponents as foreign policy novices.
“My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly," he said. "After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy — and not al Qaeda — unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally."
Romney has said he views Russia as America's top "geopolitical foe," and an overseas trip to bolster his foreign policy credentials was marred after British leaders criticized his comments on London's preparation for the Olympics.
Obama for America’s National Veterans and Military Families Vote Director Rob Diamond was on Monday’s call, and said Romney would cut Veterans of Foreign Wars funding.
“Throughout this campaign, Romney and Republicans made it clear that veterans are not a priority,” Diamond said. “He released a 59-point economic plan and not a single point even mentions veterans.”
Clark added that he expects troop support to surge in favor of Obama.
“Veterans have had a long record of leaning towards the Republican Party,” he said. “I think that’s changing. I think that President Obama has the strongest record with veterans among any president in my lifetime ... I think you will see those numbers change.”
Both campaigns have targeted military service members and their families who could play a key role in many swing states including Virginia and North Carolina.
Polls, though, show Romney with an edge among veterans.
The Romney campaign has hit back against Obama's attacks, accusing the president of being a weak ally towards Israel and of not standing forcefully to prevent Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.