BURLINGTON, Mass. (AP) — Amid violent flare-ups in the Middle East, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is trying to prove his own readiness to be commander in chief and force President Barack Obama to answer for turmoil in places like Libya, where terrorists killed the U.S. ambassador on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
Romney advisers argue that the stepped-up foreign policy criticism dovetails with a key piece of his central argument: Obama is in over his head, and the country will be worse off if he gets a second term.
Yet there's a disconnect between what Romney and his team are talking about nationally and what he is running on in the states, where his TV advertising is largely focused on the economy and jobs — voters' No. 1 issue — ahead of Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver. All that's leaving Romney open to criticism that his campaign is searching for a winning pitch just one month before the election and with voting under way in many states.
"For the last four years we've had a foreign policy led by a president who believes that the strength of his personality is going to get people to do the right things. Well, we've seen fires burning in U.S. embassies around the world," Romney told voters in Colorado on Monday night, echoing a column he published in The Wall Street Journal earlier in the day.
"Our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We're not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies. And that's dangerous," Romney wrote.
The Obama campaign reacted forcefully, calling Romney's foreign policy stances "incoherent" and "reckless, erratic and irresponsible."
Romney running mate Paul Ryan piled on, telling radio host Laura Ingraham that Obama's administration hasn't given the public the full story on the circumstances that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.