The message from Obama and Biden is clear: They will campaign on the president’s foreign policy record and actions to bolster services for veterans while aggressively criticizing Romney on the same subjects — and issuing pointed examples of the Republican’s lack of proposals to assist returning veterans and their families.
“Governor Romney is counting on our collective amnesia,” Biden said in a campaign speech in New York on Thursday billed as the first of many that will highlight what advisers deem the shortcomings of Romney’s foreign policy proposals. “But Americans know that we cannot afford to go back to the future.”
The overall strategy gives Obama a chance to widen his audience on military matters at a time when war-weariness has grown — even among Republicans and in less Obama-friendly Southern states. The push also echoes a hallmark quality of the president’s 2008 campaign: its ability to identify supporters from unlikely regions and constituencies.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted this month, majorities across all demographic and political groups said the war in Afghanistan was “not worth fighting.” This includes 52 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of conservatives and 50 percent of conservative Republicans.
All of those results are new high points in opposition to the war. People living in the Northeast are the most likely to say the war was not worth fighting, at 75 percent, followed by 66 percent in the Midwest and South and 59 percent in the West.
Obama’s effort to win a bigger share of the veterans’ vote than he did in 2008 could make a difference in swing states with large military populations, such as Virginia and North Carolina. Although the president lost the overall veterans’ vote four years ago, he won veterans younger than 65. And this year, he will not be running against a decorated war hero, as he did in 2008 against Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
Foreign policy has remained largely on the margins of campaigning so far. But Biden pushed the administration’s unfolding argument into view Thursday with a sharp assault on Romney’s qualifications to be commander in chief.
Biden’s principal message is that that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and business executive, has failed to adapt his foreign-policy views to a time when social media, international terrorism, trade and demographic change are remaking the world.
The vice president described Romney’s policies as “dangerously divorced from today’s realities,” accused Romney of being “mired in a Cold War mind-set” and said his foreign -policy positions on Russia, Iraq, missile defense and nuclear arms are “clearly and consistently stuck in the past.”