At VFW convention, Romney takes on Obama over national security record, classified information leaks


Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on July 24, 2012. Romney spoke to veterans before he leaves for London to kick off a six-day foreign trip to England, Israel and Poland.


Justin Sullivan

The Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention is making headlines as the latest battleground between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the incumbent, President Barack Obama.

VFW is the nation's biggest, oldest veteran's group, currently holding its 113th national convention in Reno, Nevada, NPR reported. Obama addressed the crowd there yesterday, discussing the shooting in Aurora and his foreign policy record — but it was Romney's comments, delivered today, that have garnered wider press.

Among other things, Romney criticized cuts to the defense budget that "no one can justify," according to The New York Times. The Associated Press pointed out that "it was Congress, more than Obama, that set the stage for such a massive cut in the Pentagon's budget."

Romney's rhetoric was aggressive in advance of a week-long trip overseas to England, Israel and Poland. “If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president. You have that president today,” Romney told the crowd, according to the Washington Post.

Romney also accused the president's team of permitting leaks of classified information. Though he did not directly accuse Obama of leaking information, according to the Times, Romney placed responsibility for leaks squarely with the president's administration.

Romney received applause after claiming that Obama administration policies have "compromised our national security secrets," footage on the Times website showed. In a specific example, Romney said that secret details about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden emerging in press reports amounted to a “national security crisis,” according to the Times.

However, the Obama administration has been notably tough on individuals who leak information to journalists, in spite of criticism from opponents and calls by congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to better control leaks of sensitive information.

NBC News has footage from the VFW convention and further discussion of Romney's comments:

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