GOFFSTOWN, N.H.--Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan joined forces on Monday to attack President Obama in the Granite State, but it was Romney who leveled the harshest accusations, asserting that the president was running a dishonest campaign he called “sad and disappointing.”
“It seems that the first victim of an Obama campaign is the truth,” Romney told a crowd of nearly 3,000 on the lawn of St. Anselm College, after a women asked him how he would combat lies being spread about him by liberals, including a rumor that he was going to raise taxes.
“I signed a statement,” Romney said referring to the antitax pledge sponsored by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “I will not raise taxes on anybody. I don’t want to raise taxes on the American people, and this is a president who, by the way, has proposed raising the tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent.”
Obama, in remarks to reporters later on Monday, strongly defended his campaign's general tone. "We don't go out of bounds," Obama said.
The Obama campaign has argued that Romney’s call for cutting taxes across the board will necessarily raise the tax burden on middle-income Americans in order to balance the budget, an analysis the Romney campaign disputes. Romney dismissed a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that reached that conclusion, saying it was based on “garbage assumptions.”
“I will not raise taxes on the American people, I will not raise taxes on middle-income Americans…. Mr. President, stop saying something that’s not the truth,” Romney said to extended applause.
Romney and Ryan also addressed foreign policy for the first time as a pair, as members of the audience asked about their plans for Afghanistan and Israel.
Romney, who took the lead on the Afghanistan question, steered clear of a detailed policy discussion and instead criticized Obama for not speaking to the nation about the war with enough frequency.
“I expect the president of the United States to address the nation on a regular basis and explain what's happening and why they're there, what the mission is, what its purpose is. How we'll know when it’s completed. Other presidents have done this. We haven't heard this president do this. This is something he ought to do time and time again so the people of America know where [things] stand,” he said.
He also pledged to “do everything in my power to transition from our military to their military as soon as possible, bring our men and women home, and do so in a way consistent with our mission, which is to keep Afghanistan from being overrun by a new entity that would allow Afghanistan to be a launching point for terror again like it was on 9/11.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith responded that Romney’s answer was far from sufficiently forthcoming.
“That’s simply not enough from someone running to be commander in chief,” Smith said in a statement. “The truth is that Romney has refused to put forth a plan for what he would do in Afghanistan. If he does have some secret plan, he owes it to our men and women in uniform to tell them.”
Ryan, who speaks far more often on economic than national-security issues, sought to bolster his credentials by recalling his vote to send troops to war after Sept. 11 as a congressman and criticized Obama’s handling of the war.
“The president, in my opinion, has made decisions that are more political in nature than military in nature,” he said. “You make decisions based on what is right for the country, for our national security, and let our men and women serving in our armed forces do their job in the safest possible way. Period. End of story.”
Romney had more specifics to offer on the issue of the United States’ relationship with Israel--and, by extension, Iran--when he called for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be tried in an international court for statements he made last week threatening to wipe out Israel.
“The awful, offensive obnoxious things he said about Israel should lead to him being indicted onto the genocide convention, his people being treated like the pariah they are, his diplomats,” Romney said in reference to a 1951 United Nations resolution.
“Iran becoming nuclear is unacceptable, and we have options on the table, but they’re not just on the table they’re in our hand,” he said. “We won’t allow them to become a nuclear threat to us or our friends.”
Neither Romney nor Ryan brought up, or was asked about, two new scandals involving two of Ryan’s House GOP colleagues--Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial comments on abortion and Rep. Kevin Yoder’s nude swim in the Sea of Galillee.