The Cable

David Brooks slams Mitt Romney’s foreign policy

New York Times columnist David Brooks had some harsh words for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

"Mitt Romney has been wandering around the country trying to find a place to disagree with Barack Obama," he said during a panel discussion at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's annual conference. "He's desperately trying, and every time he does, he looks like an idiot, because he has to say something so far out there on Russia or whatever it is."

The former governor has certainly taken a tough and colorful approach to U.S.-Russia foreign policy issues. In March, Romney called Russia the United States' "No. 1 geopolitical foe" -- a questionable assertion -- and described President Obama's reset policy as an "abject failure" in June -- a far more defensible critique.

Former senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), the Romney campaign's foreign-policy surrogate at the conference, countered Brooks' rebuke with an outline of the Republican candidate's foreign-policy qualifications and goals.

"As president, Governor Romney will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict," he stated.

Coleman also emphasized Romney's commitment to international economic cooperation.

"A Romney administration would put expanded free trade back at the center of our foreign and economic policy," he said. "In his first hundred days he'll launch a campaign to promote economic opportunity in Latin America and.... create the Reagan economic zone, a partnership among countries committed to free enterprise and free trade."

The Cable

Obama campaign calls on Romney to clarify Afghanistan policy

The Obama campaign Thursday called on Mitt Romney to clarify his policy on Afghanistan and highlighted a Romney's advisor's comments downplaying the importance of the issue.

"'Real Americans' care that Romney hasn't outlined a plan for Afghanistan," was the title of an e-mail sent out by the Obama campaign Thursday afternoon on behalf of Rob Diamond, the campaign's director for veterans and military families. Diamond was responding to comments Thursday morning made by Romney Senior Communications Adviser Tara Wall on MSNBC that "real Americans" don't care about Romney's Afghanistan policy.

Wall was responding to questions about an exclusive July 16 report on The Cable, in which we documented that senior senators on both sides of the aisle couldn't articulate Romney's Afghanistan policy, which currently contains sparse specifics on what Romney would do in Afghanistan if elected president.

"You would have to tell me what exactly you mean by ‘his policy.' That's a long discussion that I don't want to get into," Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl told The Cable.

When asked about those comments by MSNBC's Luke Russert, Wall demurred and called the issue a distraction.

"I'm not going to get into the details of that," she said. "Unfortunately it's disappointing that the attacks, these recent attacks on all these issues outside of what the issues are relative to Mitt Romney are diverting away from what real Americans want to talk about. And real Americans want to talk about getting back to work."

Diamond said that real Americans care about the mission in Afghanistan and he criticized Romney for supporting the Paul Ryan budget, which would reduce spending for veterans affairs by $11 billion per year compared to the administration's plan. Overall, the Obama campaign called on Romney to specify exactly what his plan in Afghanistan would be.

"Americans deserve to know what Mitt Romney would do as Commander-in-Chief, and rather than outlining a plan to end the war, he has thus far simply criticized the President for setting a timetable to bring our troops home," said Daimon. "If Governor Romney and his advisors don't have an answer because they don't have a plan, they should let us know that, too."

On Romney's website, the campaign criticizes President Barack Obama for announcing a "timetable" for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and accuses the administration of placing politics over the advice of military commanders by withdrawing 30,000 surge troops by September.

"Gov. Romney supports the 2014 timetable as a realistic timetable and a residual force post-2014. But he would not have announced that timetable publicly, as President Obama did, as doing so encourages the Taliban to wait us out and our allies to hedge their bets," a Romney campaign spokesperson told The Cable.