- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2012

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said this weekend that President Obama failed to lessen the risks of a nuclear-armed Iran because he came into office promising to meet with, rather than confront, that nation’s leaders — and vowed to impose “crippling sanctions” himself.

Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press” in interviews after Democrats concluded their convention, Mr. Romney also said the president has failed to lead the economic recovery he promised, and he predicted four years of “chronic high unemployment” if Mr. Obama is re-elected.

And he boiled down his own presidential ticket’s appeal to a slogan: “It’s basically you want more jobs? You want higher income? Then vote for Romney and [vice presidential nominee Paul] Ryan.”

Mr. Romney sat out most of last week as Mr. Obama accepted his party’s nomination to run for a second term, but in the days since then, the GOP’s candidate has stepped up his campaign.

On Friday he announced a series of new ads running in eight battleground states — tapping into his general election campaign funds, which is one area where he is expected to be able to go toe-to-toe with the Obama campaign.

After being criticized by both Democrats and some in his own party for spending too little time talking about national security at his nominating convention, Mr. Romney took a hard line on Mr. Obama’s performance.

He said the president deserves credit for “authorizing SEAL Team Six” to make the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but Mr. Obama has let Iran get closer to nuclear weapons and hasn’t been forceful in facing down Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Obama came into office promising to meet face to face with the Iranian leader to try to work on solutions, but has since taken a tougher stance.

“President Obama had a policy of engagement with Ahmadinejad. That policy has not worked, and we’re closer to a nuclear weapon as a result of that,” Mr. Romney said. “I will have a very different approach with regards to Iran. And it’s an approach which, by the way, the president’s finally getting closer to. It begins with crippling sanctions. That should have been put in place long ago.”

In the interview Mr. Romney said both Mr. Obama and his fellow Republicans erred by agreeing last year to automatic defense spending cuts in lieu of a broader debt dealing, and said as president he’ll fight to keep military spending the same portion of the U.S. economy as it is now.

“I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it,” he said.

He also said Mr. Obama has broken the law by failing to offer up his plan for specific defense cuts, as called for by a law that passed Congress overwhelmingly in July and that Mr. Obama signed.

Republicans had hoped by releasing the list, Mr. Obama would have to put himself on the line by highlighting communities where spending cuts could devastate the economy.

The automatic spending cuts take effect on Jan. 2 and are the result of last year’s debt deal, which laid out major broad cuts split between both defense and domestic spending, known as sequesters, unless the deficit supercommittee had been able to come up with a replacement agreement. That committee failed.

Mr. Obama had already set defense spending cuts in place but opposes the sequesters. He has called for tax increases to offset the canceled spending cuts.

For his part Mr. Romney has said he opposed both the sequesters and Mr. Obama’s cuts.

“I want to maintain defense spending at the current level of the GDP. I don’t want to keep bringing it down as the president’s doing,” he said.

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