Forgetting America Is At War, Romney Accuses Obama Of ‘Peacetime Spending Binge’…Then Walks It Back

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has kept a low profile since his failed 2008 primary bid, choosing to avoid TV and newspaper interviews in favor of strategically placed op-eds that hit President Obama on a chosen topic of the day. Today, Romney penned an op-ed for New Hampshire’s largest newspaper hitting the president for not being serious about the nation’s fiscal health. But Romney’s message hit a snag about halfway through the piece, when he apparently forgot the definition of “peace”:

Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale. Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.

As Steve Benen notes, “peacetime” is an odd choice of words, given that America is currently engaged in three separate military conflicts. In fact, it has now been nearly a decade since we have experienced anything resembling “peacetime.” It seems Romney would remember that, as he went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show last Thursday to criticize Obama’s downplaying of the conflict in Libya:

HEWITT: When last we spoke, it was about Libya. And today, the Secretary of Defense announced that the President has authorized the use of armed drones in Libya. Your reaction?

ROMNEY: Well, it’s pretty clear that the mission for our military that was outlined by the President at the outset, which was a humanitarian mission with a no-fly zone to prevent a disaster of some kind, is obviously a different mission today. The President has authorized attacking Libyan troops and tanks. We have A-10 Warthog airplanes, we have Predator drones and so forth engaged. So I think it’s time for the President to level with the American people, and with the Congress, to describe what mission he intends to employ, and why it is that we see the expansion in military involvement that we’re witnessing.

After Benen first pointed out the mistake, a Romney spokesperson told NBC’s Mark Murray, “He meant to say since World War II.”


Foreign policy certainly isn’t Romney’s strong suit. He was roundly criticized for an op-ed he wrote about the New START treaty last year. And in 2008, he was criticized by both media members and primary opponents on Iraq, first for misunderstanding the build-up to the war and then for having a seemingly fluid stance on troop withdrawal. But “war” and “peace” are pretty easy to distinguish, and it’s tough to imagine that there has ever been a presidential candidate who forgot his country was at war — in three separate countries, no less.


Dave Weigel writes that the Romney team’s walk-back “makes perfect sense.”