GOP slams Obama on economy, foreign affairs at convention

Paul Ryan accepts Republican VP nomination at convention, slams Obama for damaging US's relationships with allies.

Paul Ryan R370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Paul Ryan R370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
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 allies.
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 night.
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.”
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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.”
And 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.
“The 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 leadership.”
He particularly singled out Israel, which faces “an existential threat,” as an ally who has been threatened by Obama’s policies.
The crowd cheered loudly at the mention of the Jewish state.
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 Israel.
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 from behind.”
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 foreign policy.
“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 world.”
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.
In 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 said.
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 government.
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 hotel elevators.”
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.
Ryan is Catholic while Romney would be the first Mormon to be elected should he win in November.
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 common.
“Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed,” he said.
“Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life.”