Mitt Romney: The Heat is on, Politically Speaking
Mitt Romney’s a big fan of George W. Bush’s vice president. And that’s a worrying sign for America’s foreign policy.
BY ADAM SMITH | JULY 12, 2012
A large majority of Americans agree that President Barack Obama has a strong record protecting our nation’s security and that he has the right vision for American leadership in the world. Governor Mitt Romney’s proposals, in contrast, promise to return us to the discredited doctrines and reckless policies of the George W. Bush administration. We’ve seen that movie before, and it doesn’t end well.
That is why it’s particularly worrisome that on Thursday, July 12, Governor Mitt Romney is attending a GOP fundraiser hosted by former Vice President Dick Cheney at his home in Wyoming. It’s fitting, really, since Romney has called Cheney a “person of wisdom and judgment.”
As Romney considers possible running mates, it’s worth remembering that he pointed to Dick Cheney as the “kind of person I’d like to have” working with him. Likewise, the policies that Romney has advocated — like indefinitely leaving our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example — are continuations of the Bush-Cheney doctrine, version 2.0.
It’s no secret that Cheney was the driving force behind the Bush administration’s failed foreign policies: starting the war in Iraq with no plan to finish it, bullying our allies around the world, and watching while Iran and North Korea moved forward with their nuclear programs because the Bush White House couldn’t bring the international community together to confront these threats.
Out of Romney’s 24 special advisors on foreign policy, 17 served in the Bush-Cheney administration. If Romney were to win, it’s likely that many of these people would serve in his administration in some capacity — a frightening prospect given the legacy of this particular group. The last time they were in government, it was disastrous.
For example, one of Romney’s top surrogates on the campaign trail is John Bolton, who served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton embodies the reckless neoconservative thinking that was largely responsible for getting us into Iraq under false pretenses. Today, he openly roots for diplomacy with Iran to fail and is all-too-eager to send our men and women in uniform into war. Last year, for instance, Bolton said that, “It would be in our interest to overthrow this regime in Syria.”
The idea of Bolton and other Bush-Cheney officials serving in a Romney administration should be a scary prospect for all Americans.
Critics might object that employing former Bush staffers does not necessarily mean implementing all of their advice. But voters can only judge candidates by what they say they will do if in office, and the recklessness of Dick Cheney is clearly reflected in the foreign policies that Romney has advocated so far on the campaign trail.
Romney supported the invasion of Iraq and opposed ending the war last year. In December, as Obama welcomed home our troops from Iraq after almost nine years of conflict, Romney said, “It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq is unfortunate. It’s more than unfortunate, I think it’s tragic.” Cheney echoed that sentiment, saying a few months before we ended the war in Iraq that “it would be a real tragedy if we leave too soon before they are ready to fend for themselves.”
On Afghanistan, though Obama and all of our international coalition partners have agreed on a timetable to transfer all security responsibility to Afghan control by the end of 2014, Romney contends that we should stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, with no strategy behind his rhetoric and no plan to bring troops home. Again, Cheney has said that we don’t “need to run for the exits” in Afghanistan.
And Romney, like Cheney, remains stuck in a Cold War mentality. Romney has called Russia our “number one geopolitical foe” — an outlandish statement that stunned foreign policy experts across the political spectrum. When former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served under President Bush, was asked about Romney’s comments, he replied, “C’mon, Mitt, think. That isn’t the case.” Romney’s rhetoric toward Moscow has the ring of comments Cheney made in 2008, asserting that Russia posed a “threat of tyranny, economic blackmail, and military invasion” to its neighbor, Ukraine.
Obama has demonstrated that he is a strong and coherent leader on foreign policy issues. He kept his promise to end the war in Iraq responsibly. He refocused our efforts on crushing al Qaeda and ordered the bold raid to take out Osama bin Laden. He has repaired our alliances abroad and led the international community in putting the most crippling sanctions on Iran in history. During his tenure, he has also provided more security funding to Israel than any of his predecessors and always stood up for our friend in the international community.
A Romney presidency promises to take us back to something all too familiar: a Bush-Cheney doctrine — equal parts naïve and cavalier — which eagerly embraces military force without fully considering the consequences. That “attack now and figure it out later” mindset had disastrous consequences for our country. We can’t afford to go back to the failed policies of the past, not when we’ve come so far and had so much success. America’s security depends on moving forward to confront the threats of the future. That’s what’s at stake in this election.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.
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My Dear Adam Smith, not the Adam (Wealth of Nations) Smith, I presume,
I am Sid Harth.
Mitt Romney may be a presumptive GOP candidate for the November, 2012, presidential election. Not a devil in disguise, as per your very emotional but pointless portrait.
There is a side of Mitt Romney, I like. He is not shy. Barack Obama, however, is a shyster, personified.
Let us be fair to both. The usual blame game provides no gravitas. Your article did not allow a dispassionate reader to make up his mind. More so over unsubstantiated charges made against Mitt Romney.
You being a respectable Congressman, I wish you had more moderated speech. I bash Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, practically several times, every single day. Not by assuming more knowledge about their plans if and when they get elected.
You have no knowledge as to how Mitt Romney’s attitude, as a president, would be changed, once the responsibility becomes his and his alone.
In the heat of electioneering, one makes statements in a hurry, not being vulgar but hasty. Mitt talks too much. Barack, on the other hand, much less than he is allowed to.
Guess, who is smart?
The race has not begun. Not until the respective party conventions. GOP, particularly. Be patient. I am.
Have a nice day. Don’t worry, be happy.
…and I am Sid (no kidding) Harth@webworldismyoyster.com
Representative Smith has an interesting perspective by praising President Obama’s foreign policy while denigrating that of Bush-Cheney. In fact, President Obama has continued the bulk of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy approach: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20090824_obamas_foreign_policy_end_beginning
By now everyone is well aware what the main tension involving this year’s presidential campaign as far as Mitt Romney is concerned, will be his professional past, namely his experience at, and exposure to, Bain Capital. By now most have also gotten a sense of the angle of attack that the incumbent will rely on in order to discredit his GOP challenger, and if they haven’t, they will soon enough: after all in Obama’s own words “Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital is what this campaign is going to be about.” In other words, Romney’s history with managing private (emphasis added) equity. Yet at Marc Thiessen at the WaPo points out, the logical retort from the Romney camp http://financialtimeseries.info would be to shift attention to something potentially more embarrassing: Obama’s record with public equity. Because, frankly, it is deplorable. And while one may debate the number of job losses at the companies that Bain took private, the driving prerogative for Romney was to generate value for his investors and shareholders. This in itself will hardly be debated by Obama. In other words, for any and all of his other failings, Romney succeeded at his primary task. The question then is: did Obama do the same? Did he succeed in investing public equity, i.e., the taxpayer capital that the US financial mechanism has afforded him. Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding no.
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Documents conflict on when Romney left Bain
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WASHINGTON—Federal documents filed by Mitt Romney’s former company appear to conflict with the Republican presidential candidate’s statements about when he left Bain Capital, the private-equity firm central to his legacy in the private sector.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2001, Bain Capital listed Romney as the company’s “sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president.” It said Romney’s “principal occupation” was as Bain’s managing director.
Romney’s campaign repeatedly has said Romney had virtually nothing to do with the company’s operations after February 1999, when he began work on the troubled 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Romney “left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics, and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Thursday.
Questions about Romney’s control at Bain from 1999 to 2001 are important in his bid to oust President Barack Obama this fall. That’s when the company oversaw investments that either sent jobs abroad or filed for bankruptcy. It’s also a time during which Romney stated in federal disclosure forms that he was not active in Bain Capital.
For example, in late 1999, Bain-controlled Steam International set up overseas call centers, and a subsidiary moved jobs from California to Mexico. In 2000, the Ampad company declared bankruptcy. The following year, so did steel-maker GS Industries — just as Bain made $58.4 million from its investment.
The two presidential campaigns differ about the extent to which U.S. jobs were affected. But the Romney camp’s chief response long has been that Romney wasn’t making decisions for the company when these events took place.
The campaigns exchanged sharp accusations Thursday about truthfulness and the issue of sending U.S. jobs to other countries.
Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said Romney may have committed a felony if he misrepresented his role at Bain on the SEC documents. And if he was running Bain after 1999, Cutter said, Romney hasn’t been truthful with the public.
“If that’s the case, if he was lying to the American people, then that’s a real character and trust issue,” she said.
Romney’s campaign, meanwhile, released a new TV ad titled “No Evidence.” It accuses Obama of falsely depicting the former Massachusetts governor as someone who shipped jobs overseas when he ran Bain Capital. The ad, which will run in several battleground states, asks voters: “When a president doesn’t tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?”
The SEC document from February 2001 — which has received modest attention despite being reported in recent days by publications including Talking Points Memo — raises questions about Romney’s role at Bain in 1999, 2000 and early 2001. If he turned his full attention to the Olympics in early 1999, as his campaign says, it’s hard to square with the Bain SEC filing, two years later, listing his “principal occupation” as the company’s managing director, and his titles as CEO and president.
Romney’s campaign issued a statement Thursday from Bain that said Romney “left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure. Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period.”
James Cox, a securities law professor at Duke University, said the SEC’s “Schedule 13D” forms have always been under legal scrutiny by SEC officials and company executives. He said law firms hired to file such reports, known as “beneficial ownership reports” because they deem who can sell securities, “pay great attention to these forms. I don’t find that these parts of the documents are casually reported.”
“It’s hard for me to believe you could be listed as `management anything’ without it taking up a bulk of your time,” said Cox, who had not reviewed Bain’s statement on Thursday.
Romney helped found Bain Capital in 1984. The private equity firm invested in various companies, often restructuring their management and operations. Some became success stories, hiring new workers and enriching Bain’s investors. Others struggled or went out of business. Romney made millions of dollars, and he cites Bain as chief proof that he understands private enterprise and job-creation.
Romney eventually negotiated a retirement agreement with Bain Capital in 2002. The agreement was made retroactive to February 1999.
The Boston Globe reported Thursday that a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. Romney was elected to one term as Massachusetts governor in 2002.
Associated Press writers Charles Babington in Washington and Kasie Hunt in Jackson Hole, Wyo., contributed to this report.
…and I am Sid Harth@webworldismyoyster.com
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