Mitt Romney delivered a searing attack on President Obama's performance as commander in chief, telling a veterans convention Tuesday that Obama has weakened U.S. standing in the world and turned his back on American allies.
"The president's policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in 70 years, exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify, compromised our national security secrets, and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due," Romney said in an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev.
The Republican presidential contender addressed the veterans the day before he departs on a six-day overseas trip, during which he will try to persuade voters at home that he's ready to be commander in chief.
Calling for a new "American century," Romney said Obama has snubbed Israel, which he called America's strongest ally, and warned that U.S. military strength would be further weakened if Obama remains in the White House for another four years.
"This is very simple," Romney said. "If you don't want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I'm not your president. But with his cuts to the military, you have that president today."
Romney accused Obama of running a foreign policy with the chief purpose of benefitting politically, from the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East to the alleged leaking of classified information about the military raid that ultimately killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"The route to more war -- and to potential attacks here at home -- is a politically timed retreat," Romney said.
Romney ratcheted up his attacks on Obama over the leaks and called for an independent investigation of the White House's involvement after a top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed the White House was responsible for the leaks.
"Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed and punished," Romney said.
Obama has called such accusations "offensive" and said no member of his administration knowingly disclosed national security secrets.
Addressing the same convention Monday, Obama derided Romney on foreign policy as inexperienced and lacking a strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan or dealing with the threat of a nuclear Iran.
In direct contrast to Romney's claims, Obama said U.S. relations with its allies have never been stronger and that his administration has advanced a "new era of American leadership" that made the nation "safer and stronger and more respected in the world."
Their competing claims underscore the importance of the military vote in November. Veterans account for just 7 percent of the population, but they are heavily concentrated in key swing states like Virginia and North Carolina. Military voters typically favor Republicans, but Obama is hoping his foreign policy achievements, including killing bin Laden, will allow him to compete for their support.
Vice President Biden rebutted Romney, saying the Republican failed to lay out a specific, workable foreign policy.
"Gov. Romney had an opportunity to fulfill a long-standing promise by laying out his foreign policy vision and agenda," Biden said. "Instead, all we heard from Gov. Romney was empty rhetoric and bluster."