Romney’s ‘Make-Up’ Speech to National Guard Gathering

Photograph by Andrew A. Nelles/Zuma Press

U.S. Army SFC. Roy Hibbetts of Civil Military Operations Team, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4-73rd Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, secures the outside of a project site where a school is being built in Zharay District, Kandahar Province on July 28, 2012.

Mitt Romney has been taking a daily dose of guff for not making any mention in his Republican National Convention speech of the protracted U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Democrats also have piled on for his failure in the same address to offer the praise politicians of all stripes routinely offer the nation’s servicemen and women.

Not surprisingly, he sought to make up for all that today in an appearance before the National Guard Association Conference in Reno, Nevada.

Just a few paragraphs into his remarks, he noted “it is a Guardsman who took out Saddam Hussein’s tanks,” and “who has fought to secure the villages of Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan and Iraq got several more references, with Romney recalling that as governor of Massachusetts, he visited both countries in 2006 and met with Guard members from his state. He added that upon returning home, on Memorial Day he made 63 calls to the spouses and other relatives of some of those he had chatted with.

He also devoted a lengthy section of his speech to veterans, saying they “deserve care and benefits that are second to none” and pledging to provide that as president.

And while early in his remarks he said that on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks it would be unseemly for him to stress his differences with President Barack Obama, he used his riff on veterans to get in a few not-so-veiled shots at the current administration. Calling the current system “in need of serious and urgent reform,” he said “the backlog of disability claims needs to be eliminated, the unconscionable waits for mental health treatment need to be dramatically shortened, and the suicide rate among active-duty soldiers and veterans must be treated like the emergency it is.”

One big difference in the two Romney speeches: his one at his party’s convention occurred in prime-time and was broadcast by the major broadcast channels; his comments today began a little after 2 p.m. on the East Coast and were strictly cable fare.

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