Robert Gibbs former White House Press Secretary and senior advisor to Obama for America
The airplane pulled in at Landmark Aviation Monday morning shortly after Senator Rick Santorum spoke to supporters at the Roanoke County Republican Headquarters. The plane carried Michele Flournoy former Under Secretary of Defense, Richard Danzig former Secretary of Navy, Robert Gibbs former White House Press Secretary and senior advisor to Obama for America, former U.S. Ambassador to India Tim Roemer former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Colin Kahl former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Roanoke was the first stop on their way to Monday night’s presidential debate on foreign policy in Boca Raton, Florida.
Gibbs said that President Obama has “kept his promises and has strengthened America’s national security while Mitt Romney throughout his campaign has shown nothing but dangerous bluster and endless foreign policy blunders.”
Flournoy praised the president’s record as Commander-in-Chief. “This president has been very clear in his opposition to sequestration and the devastating cuts it would impose on our military,” she said. She took the opportunity to point to the Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s vote in favor of sequestration. The military budget was prepared and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combat commanders. “It has their full support,” she said.
Mitt Romney has no strategy and has picked “an arbitrary four percent of GDP for defense … and there is no way to pay for the $2 trillion of additional spending to our deficit” said Flournoy.
Wexler said President Obama has been clear that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon on his watch even if it takes “military power.” Wexler pointed to the “toughest ever crippling sanctions on Iran” that have devalued Iran’s currency by 80 percent and cut oil revenues in half.
Wexler said that 1500 American military officials are currently participating with Israeli counterparts in the largest ever joint military operation. “It sends a remarkably strong message to those that would do Israel harm – the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.” Obama blocked the unilateral effort for statehood for Palestine at the United Nations. Wexler accused Mitt Romney of playing politics with Israel and failed to say what he would do differently.
Kahl said Obama kept his word and ended the war in Iraq turning his focus on Afghanistan. “Not only is Osama bin Laden dead but more senior leaders of Al Qaeda have been taken off the battle field then any other time since 9/11.” All troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Kahl said Romney though he now supports the timeline has “left himself all sorts of wiggle room to stay there indefinitely … Romney just doesn’t pass the Commander-in-Chief test.”
On Libya Romney has been all over the place said Kahl. He was against the intervention and when the intervention went well he was for it. Romney also politicized the attack on Libya’s U.S. Consulate when the president clearly called it an “act of terror,” said Kahl.
Danzig said that Obama cares “passionately about veterans.” Romney on the other hand has been “remarkably quiet” on the treatment of veterans. Danzig claimed that Romney attempted to raise the rates on veterans in old age homes and slashed veterans’ benefits as Governor of Massachusetts.
Gibbs said, as Afghanistan winds down the president will use those funds to do “some nation building at home.” Gibbs said that this is especially true for Virginia. “It is an area that understands the need for a strong American defense along with a need for a plan that invests in education and infrastructure.”
When asked about former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum’s earlier remark that “as bad as the president’s record is on the economy it is much worse on national security” Gibbs responded with a litany of accomplishments. “I wonder where Rick Santorum’s been for four years,” said Gibbs.