Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Democratic presidential candidate turned surrogate for President Obama’s re-election campaign, today sharply criticized the Republican contenders for being “all over the map ” on foreign policy and national security.
They are “offering sound-bite critiques and shifting positions with every change in the headlines as they seek partisan advantage,” Clark said in prepared remarks to the National Press Club, a prebuttal to tomorrow night’s GOP presidential debate.
The former NATO commander did not single out Republicans by name, according to excerpts of the speech released by the DNC, continuing the Democratic strategy of casting all Republicans as adherents of a single “extreme” ideology. But he provided plenty of rhetorical cues to indirectly identify his targets, including front-runner Mitt Romney.
“In his first major address on foreign policy, delivered one month ago at the Citadel, one candidate made a scant, passing reference to Iraq,” Clark said referring to Romney. “Then a couple of weeks later, he accused the president of failing to make an orderly transition in Iraq, when in fact it hasn’t even happened yet but it has been well planned and exhaustively considered.”
Clark took Romney to task for his position on Iran, saying it’s “evolved from needing to consult lawyers about how to proceed in 2007 to an eagerness for military action now that gives many of us pause.” Romney said in a 2007 campaign appearance that he’d seek legal advice before ordering military action against Iran, according to the Chicago Tribune. At a debate earlier this month, Romney said definitively that if he were president, Iran would not have nuclear weapons.
And Clark singled out what he described as Romney’s shifting position on Afghanistan. “One praised President Obama’s troop surge and concurred with the idea of later taking combat troops out of Afghanistan, while criticizing setting a withdrawal date. Then he suggested U.S. troops should stay there. Then he said he’d like to see the troops come home ‘as soon as possible.”‘
As for Obama, Clark says he cited a litany of “promises kept,” including an end to the war in Iraq, a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the killing of Osama bin Laden and imposition of the toughest sanctions on Iran to date.
“As president, he has kept America safe, maintained our values, supported our allies and friends around the world, and shaped strong, visionary policies,” Clark said.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul strongly refuted Clark’s assessment, blasting Obama’s foreign policy as “feckless.”
“President Obama’s feckless foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries, weakened our allies, and threatens to break faith with our military,” she said in a statement. “His naive approach to Iran has allowed the ayatollahs to come to the brink of a nuclear weapon. He has repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus. And his failure to show any kind of leadership during the recent Supercommittee negotiations may saddle our military with a trillion dollars in defense cuts that his own decretary of defense called ‘devastating.’”