LAS VEGAS - Mitt Romney offered harsh criticism of a plan outlined by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to possibly withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in 2013, calling the administration's decision to announce its military plans to the world "misguided" and "naive."
"The president's mistakes, some of them are calculated on a philosophy that's hard to understand and, sometimes, you scratch you head and say: How can he be so misguided and so naive?" said Romney during a visit to a Brady Industries warehouse, where janitorial supplies lined the shelves.
"Today, his secretary of defense unleashed such a policy," said Romney. "The secretary of defense said that on a day certain, the middle of 2013, we're going to pull out our combat troops from Afghanistan."
Panetta told reporters en route to a NATO meeting in Brussels that the administration hopes to remove combat troops by 2013 and continue a training and advisory role with Afghan forces through 2014.
"He announced that. He announced that. So the Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it," said Romney. "Why in the world do you go to the people that you're fighting with and tell them the date you're pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense."
"His naivete is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom," he said. "He is wrong. We need new leadership in Washington."
Romney has said repeatedly on the campaign stump that his own decision regarding withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would be based on advice from generals on the ground.