The Romney campaign has been accused of being stuck in the 1950s. But it also seems mired in the 1980s — it again invoked Cold War threats on Thursday, as it tried to attack the Obama administration on foreign policy.
Romney and his surrogates have revealed an ongoing Cold War fixation. Former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman and former Bush administration Ambassador Pierre Prosper, on Thursday derailed Romney messaging in a conference call with reporters by raising the specter of the “Soviet Union” and slamming Obama for not protecting Czechoslovakia — a country that was peacefully dissolved in 1993 and now exists as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Obama is “withdrawing from leading the free world in maintaining stability around the world,” Lehman said. “What Obama calls ‘leading from behind.’”
One of the worst examples, according to Lehman, is happening at the top of the world.
“We’re seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us. In fact, the only response is to announce the early retirement of the last remaining icebreaker.”
Prosper warned Obama was abandoning America’s eastern European allies — some of which haven’t existed for decades.
“You know, Russia is another example where we give and Russia gets and we get nothing in return,” Prosper said. “The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, yet Russia does nothing but obstruct us, or efforts in Iran and Syria.”
The call was meant as a prebuttal to Vice President Biden’s foreign policy speech in New York Thursday, where he warned that Romney wants to return to a Bush-era foreign policy.
“He acts like he thinks the Cold War’s still on,” Biden said this month. “I don’t know where he’s been.”
Romney has not done much to burst that rhetorical balloon. After Biden’s remarks, Romney condemned Obama, but not without confusing modern-day Russia with the nation that came before it.
“Obama ‘entered into an agreement with the Soviets, excuse me, with Russia’ in the nuclear arms START treaty that effectively required the United States to reduce its weapons stockpile while allowing Russia to increase its stockpile,” Romney said on April 20.
In his speech Thursday, Biden said the Soviet-Russia gaffe matters.
“Everybody slips,” Biden said, but added that Romney’s mistake sounds like “a mindset.”
For their part, the Russians seem to find the whole thing rather amusing. After Romney called Russia America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” Russian President Dimitri Medvedev joked, “Also, [Romney needs to] look at his watch: We are in 2012 and not the mid-1970s.”
Here’s audio of the gaffes from Thursday’s Romney call: