Obama campaign doesn't hold fire as Romney tours

As Romney pledges not to criticize US foreign policy during Europe, Israel trip, Obama's team challenges his positions.

US President Barack Obama 370 (R) (photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
US President Barack Obama 370 (R)
(photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney might have pledged not to criticize US foreign policy while on a trip to Europe and Israel that began Thursday, but the Obama campaign did not hold its fire.
Obama’s team held a conference call with national security figures Thursday challenging Romney’s positions and international approach.
“He doesn’t bring any real national security experience for the issues at hand. He doesn’t have foreign policy experience,” charged Gen.
Wesley Clark, former supreme allied commander of NATO, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. “We think the American people deserve to hear an alternative view if there is a challenge. Not just baseless bromides and tired, hackneyed phrases from the Cold War.”
In another move perceived in some quarters as an attempt to undercut Romney’s efforts to reach out to Israel and Jewish voters on his trip, US President Barack Obama will hold a signing ceremony for a bill enhancing US-Israel security cooperation on Friday.
The bill, which had wide swaths of bipartisan support and was strongly lobbied by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, will enhance intelligence cooperation, American commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge and other aspects of the bilateral relationship.
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Romney began his trip in Britain, where he will attend the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.
He is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday.
His campaign wants to highlight his successful stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, which he put back on track after severe mismanagement.
But his attendance at the Olympics was not without potential political pitfalls. Many American Jewish organizations have been lobbying for a moment of silence to be observed during the Opening Ceremonies in observance of the Israeli athletes slain in Munich 40 years ago, a request turned down by the International Olympic Committee.
Last week, the White House weighed in to say it supported the minute of silence, and Romney originally stayed mum on the issue before eventually endorsing the remembrance this week.
Though the IOC has not changed its position, a number of other groups have decided to hold their own moments of silence, including the US Congress, which commemorated the massacre on Thursday morning.
“We have written repeatedly to the IOC to urge them to reconsider and re-reconsider their position regarding the moment of silence, and the response we received repeated the same meaningless excuses the IOC has clung to year after year,” Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R-Florida), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the event.
“We know why the IOC has refused: Because the murdered Olympians were Israelis, and the IOC does not want to draw the ire of foreign governments who still object to the very existence of a Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people.”