CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Democratic Senator John Kerry denounced Mitt Romney's approach to world affairs on Thursday and praised President Barack Obama's handling of national security, telling any doubters to "ask Osama Bin Laden if he's better off now than he was four years ago!" The decorated veteran and foreign policy expert also accused Romney of getting his information about Russia from "Rocky IV."
"Here's the choice in 2012: Mitt Romney--out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad, and out of the mainstream?" Kerry said in a red-meat speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
"Or, Barack Obama—a President giving new life and truth to America's indispensable role in the world, a Commander in Chief who gives our troops the tools and training they need in war, the honor and help they've earned when they come home? A man who will never ask other men and women to fight a war without a plan to win the peace," he said.
Kerry is often mentioned among the top contenders to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state if Obama wins a second term. A decorated Vietnam War veteran, the Massachusetts senator has fiercely defended the president's policies from Republican attacks in Congress. He has also taken on difficult diplomatic tasks like negotiating the release of an American held by Pakistan and the ratification of the START treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear arms stockpiles. Kerry mocked Romney's travels abroad earlier this summer, which were marred by a series of missteps that robbed him of the headlines he had hoped for.
"'President Mitt Romney'—three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer. For Mitt Romney, an overseas trip is what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas. It wasn't a goodwill mission—it was a blooper reel," Kerry said.
Kerry also took aim at another Romney comment. "He's even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our 'number one geopolitical foe.' Folks: Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV," he said.
And the senator eviscerated Romney for failing to mention the war in Afghanistan in his speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week.
"No nominee for president should ever fail in the midst of a war to pay tribute to our troops overseas in his acceptance speech. Mitt Romney was talking about America. They are on the front lines every day defending America, and they deserve our thanks," he said.
Much of Kerry's speech focused on tying Romney to the aggressive foreign policy of George W. Bush's first term and charging that the former Massachusetts governor just doesn't have what it takes to manage America's affairs on the world stage.
"Will we protect our country and our allies, advance our interests and ideals, do battle where we must, and make peace where we can" by reelecting Obama, Kerry asked. "Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn't learned the lessons of the last decade?"
Kerry accused Romney of relying on neoconservatives who "know all the wrong things about foreign policy" and described the Republican ticket as having the least foreign policy experience in decades.
And Kerry charged that Republicans have "lied about where this president stands and what this president has done" when it comes to relations with Israel and efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
He also hammered the Republican standard-bearer on what is now America's longest war, saying "it isn't fair to say Mitt Romney doesn't have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position."
Bin Laden also had a cameo in remarks by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
"Governor Romney said that finding Osama bin Laden was 'not worth moving heaven and earth,'" said Schweitzer. "Tonight, bin Laden isn't on earth, and he sure isn't in heaven. Thanks to the courage of American Special Forces and the bold leadership of our president, Osama bin Laden is at the bottom of the ocean."
Kerry's remarks came after Democrats embarrassed themselves with a bizarre flip-flop on the issue of whether Jerusalem is Israel's capital. First Democrats stripped language from the party platform saying an "undivided" Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Then, facing anger from Jewish groups and criticism from Republicans, Obama himself pushed to restore that language, aides said—even though it puts the party at odds with his policy, which is that Israel must negotiate the status of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Obama's policy is the same as that of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and of former president Bill Clinton. Romney, in turn, has taken the position that presidential challengers often take as they court Jewish voters: That Jerusalem is Israel's capital.