TAMPA, Florida – In accepting the Republican nomination for vice president
Wednesday night, Paul Ryan slammed US President Barack Obama for worsening
America’s position in the world and hurting its relationships with
It is a theme that Mitt Romney himself is expected to echo in his
own speech as the freshly minted GOP presidential nominee late Thursday
As they seek to better define themselves for the American public
and broader international community, the Republican duo are trying to make the
case that they will better lead America on the world stage and are the ones to
trust with vexing international issues.
At the same time, Ryan’s focus at
the Republican National Convention Wednesday night was overwhelmingly on
economic issues such as job creation and the deficit. Given the problems
plaguing the American economy and Romney’s own business background, these topics
are the centerpieces of the GOP campaign and were sure to dominate Romney’s
address as well.
Still, the Republican party has found much to dislike in
the Democratic president’s handling of foreign affairs.
In his speech,
Ryan accused Obama of “managing American decline, leaving allies to doubt us and
adversaries to test us.”
In contrast, he pledged that a Romney-Ryan
administration would “speak with confidence and clarity” in its dealings with
the world, and “act in the conviction that the United States is still the
greatest force for peace and liberty that this world has ever known.”
in stressing that “wherever men and women rise up for their own freedom, they
will know that the American president is on their side,” he obliquely criticized
Obama for not taking a more aggressive stance on behalf of civilians who have
rebelled against Middle East unelected leaders.
John McCain, the
Republican presidential nominee in 2008, more explicitly attacked Obama for not
doing more to help Iranians rising up against their leaders in 2009.
president missed a historic opportunity to put his full support behind an
Iranian revolution,” he charged in his speech earlier in the evening. McCain
also criticized the man who bested him for causing allies “to doubt America’s
He particularly singled out Israel, which faces “an
existential threat,” as an ally who has been threatened by Obama’s
The crowd cheered loudly at the mention of the Jewish
Following McCain’s address, a video showed highlights of Mitt
Romney’s recent trip to Israel.
The crowd applauded when Mitt was shown
declaring that “America will always stand with a free and strong Israel” and
cheered even louder when he called Jerusalem the capital of
Condoleezza Rice, who served as secretary of state under George
W. Bush, also addressed the enthusiastic crowd on a night that touched much more
on foreign policy than previous convention sessions.
Referring to the
Obama administration’s explanation that it had “led from behind” in dealing with
Libya, Rice countered that “We cannot be reluctant to lead and we cannot lead
Democratic allies of Obama, anticipating that Wednesday
night would be the evening at the GOP convention most devoted to international
affairs, held a conference call earlier in the day criticizing Romney for his
“The American people when it comes to national security
are looking for tough but smart. They want America to lead and they want America
to stand strong,” said Douglas Wilson, a former assistant secretary of defense
under Obama. But they don’t want “beating their chests and charging headlong
over cliffs when it comes to spending or when it comes to engaging in the
Former Democratic congressman Tim Roemer contended that the
Romney campaign has not spent much time at the convention or during the campaign
on foreign policy because Obama is seen as stronger on the issue. The president
has polled consistently higher than his Republican rival on the question of who
would be a better commander in chief.
Roemer also attacked the
Romney-Ryan ticket for lacking credentials such as military service or
experience working on international issues.
“This is one of the most
inexperienced tickets on the Republican side for decades,” he said.
response, Republican Jewish Coalition executive-director Matt Brooks fired back
that Obama had little foreign policy experience when he ran, having served only
two years in the US Senate.
“I’m curious how they square that circle,” he
Ryan was greeted with extended standing ovations upon entering and
leaving the packed convention hall. He pounded regular Republican tropes which
accuse Obama of failed fiscal policies and wanting to grow the size of
But he also introduced a note of levity when he chided his
running mate for music preferences Ryan said he has frequently heard “on many
Calling the difference in their musical tastes – Ryan
prefers groups such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin – a demonstration of the
generational divide between him and Romney, the VP nominee also noted other
contrasts between the two men, including their religions.
Catholic while Romney would be the first Mormon to be elected should he win in
But Ryan stressed that “in any church, the best kind of
preaching is done by example.”
He extolled his running mate as “prayerful
and faithful and honorable.”
And he suggested that the two politicians,
as well as adherents of all different belief systems, have much in
“Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed,” he
“Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and
likeness of the Lord of Life.”