- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mitt Romney on Monday will accuse the Obama administration of fundamentally misunderstanding the threat of radical Islam, using a major foreign-policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute to say President Obama is rejecting six decades of bipartisan consensus by not flexing more U.S. muscle on the world stage.

And after delaying for nearly a month, the Republican presidential nominee will sharpen his attack about the way Mr. Obama handled the assault on American diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya.

According to excerpts, he will say the president’s first reaction was to blame an Internet video mocking Islam, and only belatedly to spot “the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others.”

“Hope is not a strategy,” Mr. Romney will say. “We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.”

Mr. Romney will make the speech less than a week after resetting the race with a strong debate performance that has energized Republican voters and helped him capture the lead in polls in some of the key battleground states.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tells a crowd of 9,000 in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Sunday that President Obama has failed to fulfill his promise to cut health care costs. (Associated Press)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tells a crowd of 9,000 in Port ... more >

But Friday’s jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent — to 7.8 percent, which is where it was when Mr. Obama took office in January 2009 — erased one of the Republican’s favorite talking points.

The economy has dominated the presidential race, but Iran’s nuclear program and the Sept. 11 attacks on the American Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, have thrust foreign affairs into the headlines.

Mr. Obama and his advisers initially said the attacks were sparked by a video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, but have since acknowledged that the attack in Benghazi was orchestrated by terrorist elements linked to al Qaeda.

Mr. Romney will argue that Mr. Obama’s response to the attacks is emblematic of his overall approach to foreign affairs, which Mr. Romney said he will change by throwing around more American weight.

He said he will use foreign aid to pressure Egypt to protect democracy, will try to build the Syrian opposition and will try to restart negotiations toward a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians.

“I believe that if America does not lead, others will — others who do not share our interests and our values — and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us,” he will say. “America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.”

The Obama campaign said Mr. Romney hasn’t shown that he is up to the task of handling foreign policy.

“We’re not going to be lectured by someone who has been an unmitigated disaster on foreign policy every time he’s dipped his toe in the foreign policy waters,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One on Sunday.

She recounted Mr. Romney’s summer trip to Europe and Israel, where he had to make amends for saying London didn’t seem fully prepared for what turned out to be a successful Olympics.

“The only person who has offended Europe more is probably Chevy Chase,” Ms. Psaki said, referring to the actor’s comedic movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”

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