(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan sharpened his criticism of President Obama’s leadership as commander-in-chief at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., Wednesday evening, telling this military-friendly crowd that the president’s policies “project weakness abroad.”
Obama’s proposals to cut defense spending, Ryan said, would scale back missile defense and directly cost Colorado almost 18,000 jobs.
“Of all the things that Mitt Romney and I differ, disagree with President Obama — we need a strong military!” Ryan said. “We believe in peace through strength. We believe that when America’s military is strong, America is safer.”
“These defense cuts that he is promising, these devastating defense cuts that he is promising not only undermine our peace, not only undermine our security, they compromise jobs right here,” he said. “These devastating defense cuts will cut things like our missile defense. And you know what? It probably should come as no surprise, because when Barack Obama was running for office he said that he didn’t believe in missile defense.”
This goes back to Bob Woodward’s recent book, The Price of Politics, which explained that the $1.2 trillion sequester element of the deal to increase the debt limit in August 2011 was the White House’s idea. Although members of both parties ultimately voted for the Budget Control Act, Republicans blame the president for coming up with it.
House Republicans voted twice to replace the defense sequester, while the Democratic Senate has not.
Ryan then recounted a candid moment Obama shared with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an open-mic moment at a summit in South Korea last March.
“This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama told Medvedev at the time.
That plea for space didn’t sit well with Ryan.
“He was talking to the Russian president when he thought no one was listening. He said he needed more flexibility for after the election,” Ryan said as the crowd booed. “Mitt Romney and I want to be very clear with you. We value and respect your mission here and we believe in and support missile defense and missile defense is necessary to keep us safe and we will not allow that to go through.”
“Please know that when we gut our military as the president is proposing — when we equivocate on speaking up for our values overseas, our freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom for women and women’s rights and individual rights — when we do this, we project weakness abroad,” he said. “And when we project weakness abroad, our enemies are more willing to test us, they are more brazen and our allies are less willing to trust us and that will not happen under a Mitt Romney administration because we believe in peace through strength.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN