Clint Eastwood made life awkward for Mitt Romney in more ways than one at Thursday’s primetime finale to the Republican National Convention. Unlike the candidate for president, the Hollywood actor actually mentioned the ongoing war the U.S. is fighting.
There are nearly 80,000 U.S. soldiers still in Afghanistan. Yet you would not know that from listening to Mr. Romney’s forty-minute speech in Tampa.
The omission makes Mr. Romney the first Republican presidential candidate since 1952 to leave out any reference to war or terrorism during his acceptance speech, the Associated Press reported.
Mr. Romney castigated President Barack Obama for doing too little to slow Iran’s nuclear ambitions and for forsaking traditional allies like Israel and Poland. But the words Afghanistan or Iraq did not pass his lips.
That absence is part of a broader pattern at the convention, which featured little explicit talk of foreign policy. Partly that is a reflection of how voters feel: jobs and the economy are paramount, not the uncertain outcome of an unpopular war now in its eleventh year.
It is “semi-normal” for a party convention to veer away from foreign policy, depending on the circumstances, noted William Kristol, a prominent conservative commentator, in an interview Wednesday at one of the few events in Tampa that focused on world affairs.
“People are over-interpreting it,” he said, referring to speculation that Mr. Romney isn’t interested in foreign policy or his role as commander-in-chief.
Yet on Friday, not long after Mr. Romney’s moment in the limelight, Mr. Kristol blasted him for not mentioning the war American soldiers are waging.
“Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney’s silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week,” Mr. Kristol wrote on his blog. “What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we’re fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it?”
Strangely, the job of talking about Afghanistan was left to Mr. Eastwood. During a rambling appearance featuring a dialogue with an imaginary Mr. Obama, Mr. Eastwood teased the president for not bringing home the troops “tomorrow morning” and for failing to check with Russia about the wisdom of invading the country. The lines drew laughter and cheers from the thousands in the audience.