Biden Hammers Romney Over Foreign Policy

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden took direct aim at presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a speech Thursday, hitting the candidate as having an outdated approach to foreign policy that was "fundamentally wrong."

"Governor Romney wants to take us back to a world that no longer exists with policies that are dangerously divorced from today's reality," Biden said in his remarks at New York University.

On the campaign trail, Romney has repeatedly advocated for a stronger military presence in certain parts of the world, including possible military assistance in Syria and Iran.

The Romney campaign has been especially critical of the president on Iran in recent weeks, saying the current adminstration waited too long to impose its recent round of sanctions and has all but eliminated the threat of military intervention against the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.

But Biden lauded the Obama administration's handling of the situation and accused Romney of wanting to move in the direction of war.

"The only step we could take and aren't already taking is launch a war against Iran," Biden said. "That's what Gov. Romney means … He should tell the American people. He should say so. Otherwise the governor's tough talk about military action is just that: Talk."

Last month, Romney took heat over describing Russia as the country's top "geopolitical foe." Democrats, including Biden, have since seized on the comments as a way to paint Romney as a candidate with a "Cold War mindset."

Hitting Romney as "ignorant" on foreign policy, Biden said Romney was "counting on our collective Amnesia" and wants to move back to an approach that "would have America go it alone" and would "lash out first and ask the hard questions later, if at all."

Biden also argued Romney had a "profound misunderstanding" of the decision making powers of the Oval Office, claiming Romney would outsource decisions to the State Department or others with more foreign policy experience.

"That kind of thinking may work for a CEO, but it cannot and will not work for a president and will not work for a commander in chief," Biden said.

The vice president also attempted to draw a sharp contrast between Obama and Romney over the war against terror, repeating a line he's used in recent speeches.

"If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," Biden said.

Surrogates for Romney's campaign, however, took issue with Biden's remarks, telling reporters on a conference call prior to the speech that Obama has drastically and irresponsibly changed the country's approach to foreign affairs.

Alex Wong, Romney's top foreign policy adviser, argued Obama was an outlier to most modern presidencies, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, and said both presidents have abandoned a doctrine of "peace through strength."

"So if Joe Biden or Barack Obama want to compare a weak Carter-Obama doctrine to 'peace through strength,' then we're happy to make that comparison," Wong said.

Asked how Romney would handle the ongoing crisis in Syria, Wong said Romney would work with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two American allies in the region, to "identify, organize and arm" the opposition.

Others on the call, including former Defense Department official Dan Senor and former Navy Secretary John Lehman, faulted the Obama administration for defense cuts, as well as decisions to restrain from arming opposition movements in Iran and Syria, citing them as examples of Obama's "failed policies."

"What we're seeing here is that America's voice and America's influence is not what it was in many of the previous administrations," Lehman said. "The United States is not as strong as it should be internationally."

A recent poll showed less than half of voters believed the president has done well in handling foreign policy, with 46% saying they approved of his policies, while 36% said they disapproved, according to the mid-April survey by CBS News/New York Times.

Meanwhile, according to a recent CNN/ORC International Poll, 52% of voters believed Obama can better handle the job of commander in chief, whereas 36% felt the same about Romney.

– CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

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