Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy advisers held a call today to preview the Republican candidate’s major policy address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference, but seemingly forgot to mention the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
Indeed, the advisors only addressed it after two reporters called them out on it’s conspicuous absence — and three aides stumbled over each other trying to explain Romney’s policies there.
“Gov. Romney will make clear his policy on Afghanistan in the same way he has over the past months and the past year,” said Alex Wong the campaign’s foreign policy director.
But even Republican lawmakers have called on Romney to be more open about his plans for Afghanistan.
When asked by Foreign Policy whether he supported Romney’s plans for Afghanistan South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, responded “What is it?”
Obama aides were quick to point to Romney Senior Communications Adviser Tara Wall’s comments last week on MSNBC. Walls said that questions about Romney’s Afghanistan policy were a distraction from the issues that matter to voters: jobs and the economy.
“When asked about Governor Romney’s plans for the war in Afghanistan last week, a senior Romney advisor actually called the war a diversion and said the campaign would focus on the issues “real Americans” care about,” Obama campaign press secretary Ben Labolt said, calling Romney’s foreign policy “all bluster.”
An administration official told BuzzFeed he was “surprised” to see that the eleven year old war wasn’t a main focus of the speech.”Romney’s campaign didn’t relase anything about Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq,” outside of the context of the leaks investigation, the official pointed out.
Dodging Afghanistan as issue can be a two-way street, however. The Obama campaign prefers to avoid rehashing the often contentious debate over the White House’s Afghanistan policy, instead highlighting the administration’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops, frequently saying that “President Obama ended one war, and is ending another.”