CARY, N.C. (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has what it takes to be commander in chief and President Barack Obama has fallen short in foreign affairs, U.S Sen. John McCain said Tuesday.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who lost to Obama, was joined by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham at pro-Romney events in the state that emphasized foreign policy and the military.
Speaking to veterans and military families in Wake County, the Arizona senator criticized the president's foreign policy record and said Obama has put the nation's safety at risk through defense spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January. He's also erred on military withdrawal plans from Afghanistan and the handling of last month's assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, McCain said.
Romney, a primary rival to McCain in 2008, is a "sharp contrast, because he believes that we should lead and he believes that this president is not leading, and therefore, there's a perception of weakness throughout the world," McCain said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Cary.
Democratic U.S. Rep. David Price said later in response that foreign policy is one of the president's strengths, pointing out the public has given the president high marks there, especially for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
"It seems to me that's a very steep hill they've got to climb to try to make this president out to be some kind of foreign policy failure. It's one of his strongest suits," Price said.
But Graham said at the Cary event that while bin Laden's death should be celebrated, his demise alone can't be counted as successful foreign policy. "Has it stopped people from coming after us?" Graham asked. "Is anybody afraid of America?"
McCain acknowledged that congressional Republicans are partly to blame for the impending defense cuts that will take effect without a deficit-reduction deal by January but said Obama has failed to lead on the issue.
McCain and Graham were scheduled to hold a similar event Tuesday afternoon in Fayetteville. Graham was to continue on for a Romney rally in Wilmington.
Obama edged McCain by 14,000 votes in 2008 to earn North Carolina's 15 electoral votes.