And Mr. Biden went on the attack, painting Mr. Romney as woefully unprepared for the role of Commander-in-Chief, describing him as a both a flip-flopper who consistently misrepresents his own and Barack Obama’s record and views, and as someone even out-of-step with the rightward tilt of today’s Republican Party.
“The question is, Where does Gov. Romney stand? How would he keep our citizens safe and our nation secure?” Mr. Biden said, adding, “The truth is, we don’t know for certain. But we know where the governor starts. He starts with a profound, profound misunderstanding of the responsibilities of the president and the Commander-in-Chief.”
Tying Mr. Romney to his earlier career as a management consultant and CEO, Mr. Biden quoted the former Massachusetts governor saying that a president does not need to know how to be a foreign policy expert, since experts in the State Department and elsewhere can be handle the policy.
“In my view, the last thing we need is a president who believes he can sub-contract our foreign policy to experts at the State Department or for that matter any other department or agency,” Mr. Biden said, pointing out that despite the deep experience of President Obama’s foreign policy team–including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the ultimate decision maker is the president.
“No matter how experienced the team, no matter how wise the advice and counsel, to use an old expression, the buck literally stops on the president’s desk in the Oval Office.”
“Governor Romney’s fundamental thinking about the role of the president in foreign policy is fundamentally wrong. That kind of thinking may work for a CEO but I assure it can not work for a president,” Mr. Biden added.
Vice-President Biden touted several times his own proximity to Mr. Obama, but said that ultimately foreign policy decisions were the president’s alone, and had to be made above the competing views of his advisers and sometimes without all the facts. And he described Mr. Obama as someone with the judgment to make the tough decisions, and Mr. Romney has someone without.
Instead, Mr. Biden described Mr. Romney as so driven by dislike of President Obama that he automatically chooses the opposite position of the president, or chooses the same position as the president and then distorts the president’s position.
“Governor Romney reflexes criticizes the president’s policy and almost in every case without offering any specific alternative,” he said. “We do know that when the governor does venture a position it is a safe bet that he previously took or is about to take an exactly opposite position. And it is an equally safe bet that he will end up landing in the wrong place and out of the mainstream of the thinking of Republican and Democratic foreign policy.”
Mr. Biden noted that Mr. Romney has not made foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign, a testament, he argued, to the strength of their administration’s record.
“Americans know that we can’t go back to the future, back to a foreign policy that would have America go it alone,” Mr. Biden said, accusing Mr. Romney of being someone who “sees the world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century,” and who views the Russia as the primary threat to U.S. safety.
Mr. Biden was somber throughout the speech, even though it was delivered to a roomful of approximately 500 mostly young, partisan Democrats. Still, the address was not without a few Bidenisms. He said that when he entered the U.S. Senate, all he knew about military commanders he had learned from Dr. Strangelove. He joked about his age and his tendency for malapropisms. And then he promptly made one: referring to Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy slogan, he said, “I promise you, the president has a big stick.”
And Mr. Biden again and again referred to perhaps Mr. Obama’s greatest foreign policy triumph–the decision to kill Osama Bin Laden. It was a move that Mr. Romney described as unnecessary when he ran for president in 2008, and for Mr. Biden, that summed up the difference between the two approaches
“If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up what President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
Later, he revised the line, and added, “You have to ask: If Governor Romney were president, could he use the same slogan in reverse?”