Presidential Campaign

FULL SPEECH: Leon Panetta on defense and Trump

Greg Nash

At this hour, in some very dangerous corners of the world, young Americans stand guard. Our brave military and intelligence professionals are on the front lines, far from home, risking their lives. For us. For our freedom. For our way of life.

A president, a Commander-in-Chief, has no greater responsibility than the decision to send our troops into harm’s way.

{mosads}I have worked alongside nine presidents, Republicans and Democrats, and I can tell you this: The only candidate for president who has the experience, temperament, and judgment to be Commander-in-Chief is Hillary Clinton. 

This is no time to gamble with our future. America faces flash points and threats from around the globe. We need a president who’s strong and smart, who enters the Oval Office with the respect of the generals and admirals who lead our military, with the confidence of our diplomats who represent America, and with the trust of our troops who know that she will always have their back.

This president is Hillary Clinton. During my time as CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, Hillary was a strong supporter of our efforts to protect our homeland, decimate al-Qaeda, and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. It was a tough decision to go after bin Laden. In long meetings in the White House Situation Room, we debated that fateful decision.

I presented the intelligence to the President, laying out the risks. And when the President went around the table to the country’s national security leadership, Hillary was clear: We have to go get bin Laden. And our Special Operations Forces did just that. And they sent a clear message to the world that no one attacks America and gets away with it.

Hillary is just as determined to defeat those who threaten us today: ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab. Terrorists who pervert the teachings of Islam to kill innocent people going about their daily lives, people traveling through airports in Brussels and Istanbul, families celebrating on the beachfront in France, men and women shopping in a market in Baghdad, and just this week, an 85-year-old priest whose throat was slit by terrorists who stormed his church during Mass. These murderers must be stopped.

Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has laid out a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIS and keep America safe. She is smart. She is principled. She is tough and she is ready. Hillary is the single most experienced and prepared person who has ever run for president.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump says he gets his foreign policy experience from watching TV and running the Miss Universe Pageant. If only it were funny. It is deadly serious. Donald Trump asks our troops to commit war crimes, endorses torture, spurns allies from Europe to Asia, suggests more countries to have nuclear weapons, and praises dictators from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin.

Today, Donald Trump once again took Russia’s side. He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States to affect our election.

As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it’s inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be this irresponsible. Donald Trump cannot become our Commander-in-Chief.

In an unstable world, we cannot afford unstable leadership. We cannot afford someone who believes America should withdraw from the world, threatens our international treaties, and violates our moral principles. We cannot afford an erratic finger on our nuclear weapons.

This is no time to roll the dice and to gamble with America’s national security or with the American Dream. I’ve lived the American Dream. My parents were immigrants from Italy. They came through Ellis Island, made their way to California, and opened a restaurant in Monterey.

I can still remember standing on a chair in the back of that restaurant washing glasses. Never could my immigrant parents have dreamed that their son would grow up to be Secretary of Defense of the most powerful military in the world.

The American Dream has been defended, in every generation, by the brave men and women willing to fight and die for America. They are our greatest national treasure. They deserve a serious Commander-in-Chief. If we care about them, our security, our freedoms, and the American Dream, there is only one choice: Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

God bless you, and God bless our great nation.

Tags 2016 Democratic convention armed services CIA Defense Democratic Party DNC Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Intelligence National security Philadelphia United States

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