(USA TODAY) Mitt Romney again defended his decision to leave out the Afghanistan war in his GOP convention speech, saying he chose to emphasize other policy differences with President Obama.
In an interview that aired today with NBC's Meet the Press, Romney said he believes it is "interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy." He pointed to a speech he gave Aug. 29, on the eve of his convention remarks, to the American Legion as evidence of his commitment to U.S. troops.
"I've been to Afghanistan and the members of our troops know of my commitment to Afghanistan and to the effort that's going on there," Romney said to NBC's David Gregory. "I have some differences on policy with the president. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech."
Romney visited Afghanistan in January 2011, before he officially entered the 2012 presidential race. It was his second trip to the war zone, following a trip to Afghanstan, Iraq and Kuwait in 2006 ahead of his 2008 campaign for president.
Romney was criticized for not making specific mention to the war in Afghanistan in his Aug. 30 acceptance speech.Conservative writer Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, was among those who took Romney to task. Kristol wrote:
Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney's silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week. 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?
Romney has criticized Obama for saying he will withdraw U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan as part of a "surge" in forces by the end of this summer. Romney has said the date has "no military rationale" and ignores the advice of U.S. commanders.
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY