Martin Bashir | July 24, 2012
>> we start with mitt romney appearing before the veterans of foreign wars in reno and delivering a broadside against the president in advance of romney 's six-day tour of europe. speaking on the same stage the president took 24 hours ago romney was raspy at times and gave very little detail on what or how he would change u.s. foreign policy . also, he had little to say on syria but that didn't stop him from slamming the president on topics ranging from impending defense cuts to israel nor from talking up one of his favorite topics, american exceptionalism .
>> i'm an unapologetic believer in america , i'm not ashamed of american power.
>> it was the investigation into the league around the investigation to kill osama bin laden where romney delivered his most full throated criticism of the president and staff.
>> betrays national interest , compromises our men and women in the field and demands a full and prompt investigation by a special council with explanation and consequence.
>> this comes a day after the president, without directly naming his opponent attacked romney and others who have called his withdrawal from iraq a failure.
>> and some said that bringing our troops home last year was a mistake. they would have kept tens of thousands of our forces in iraq indefinitely, without a clear mission. well, when you're commander in chief, you owe the troops a plan. you owe the country a plan.
>> regardless, a new poll suggests that americans do feel more confident in president obama 's capabilities as commander in chief, giving the president a ten-point edge on the question of who would make the better commander in chief. let's get right to our panel michael dyson , msnbc analyst, david, an analyst and a former spokesman for newt gingrich . let me start with you. mitt said he would not send troops into afghanistan to get bin laden . he waffled on whether to support libyan rebels. when you look at this, does he have a at lending the president weak.
>> you have a democrat in office, you call him weak. the whole notion the president apologizes for america , politifact declared that a pants on fire lie and yet mitt romney keeps repeating it. the fact barack obama doesn't believe america is exceptional, you can find video after video of barack obama saying, this is an exceptional country. look at me. a lot of platitudes in the face of foreign policy differences. i'm still waiting to hear what mitt romney would do in terms of drone policy, would have been done in gadhafi, libya, anything different than what the president did. there's a lot of stomping of the feet and beating of the breast. it's all going back to trying to capitalize on this same republican play. if you've got a democrat you call him weak. you act tough, whether you served, didn't serve, no matter what. that's what he did did.
>> michael, as we look at mitt romney , who is going to go on a six- day trip abroad, promising not to attack the president would not have good optics here or abroad. is he therefore getting in his last punches before going?
>> he's trying to ramp up and deliver a knockout punch. it's ineffective. first of all, as just pointed out, he hears the strategy to paint obama as weak. yet obama killed bin laden . obama 's foreign policy has been much stronger than anticipated by conservatives taking away one of their bully pulpit and whipping boys . as a result of that, obama has really outdone conservatives by outan pagt and strategizing to what it might be to a weekend democratic figure. so yes, this is mitt romney grasping after straws, trying to look please doenges, global appeal when he can't shore up his domestic, so to speak. halfhearted, full throated, though raspy, to attack the president and assault foreign policy when in reality he's given nothing concrete that might substitute for what obama did and might not lead us into a better future as americans through the the world.
>> rick, strong words to from the president to vfw, does it open up to criticism of his record during war. we're alludeing to that time in france during vietnam.
>> governor romney has to be careful overseas. has he to articulate i think for his conservative base in america first policy. he's clearly ahead on economics. clearly ahead even since the bain attacks and wants to take a chink out of the armor of obama , which is he's perceived as strong on foreign policy , probably because of the bin laden killing. i think the foreign policy with obama has been confused at best. we can't determine the difference between his action in libya and inaction in syria . we don't know his lack of leadership in syria caused russians to take a prominent stance. that has led to us being seen as weak, not by americans as the middle east . i think romney can do a lot, particularly with our allies to say what he would do and how he would shore up security in the middle east . we'll wait and see, see what he says.
>> we're mistaking american empire with power in deference to a global community .
>> we've never tried to conquer territories.
>> rules employed by conservatives denied by legitimate, the expansion of american dominance in the world, age of america has declined but america , as the president said, has not declined. what has declined is an old shop worn notion that in order to be a big figure in the world community , we have to be a bully. i think obama is away from those politics, much more conciliatory policy.
>> to take it away from those grand concepts and i like grand concepts, mitt romney didn't have anything to say about syria . his remarks about afghanistan over the past two years have been utterly confusing as he sort of -- they got a little more firm as he drifted more into the neo-conservative wing of your republican party , rick. but that wing was discredited with the iraq war under george w. bush and certainly from a pure political position is not popular. so if he wants to go overseas and talk like he's dick cheney , i don't think you would believe that would be good politics for him, do you?
>> i don't know if he would go over and speak like dick cheney . we do need a strong foreign policy and not so much to be liked in the world, we need to be predictable. what is it americans stand for? what will we do. i don't buy this idea of american imperialism or dominance, we're dominant because we're the largest, a third of the world people and produce a fourth of the wealth. that allows us to have a voluntary army of men and women, greatest technology in the world. that's bought and paid for with our system, one --
>> uncritical celebration in america does not equal pride in america . the recognition there's flaws and missteps is not a recognition it's not great, it acknowledges your denial.
>> i'm not denying anything.
>> i can't give awe history lesson here in a few seconds, you've got to read books and come prepared to understand.
>> i'm not going to read the books you recommend, i'll tell you that. look, there is a lot to be celebrated in america . america made many mistakes. what's great about america , we changed those things. the reason america is exceptional, not because we were better than everybody else, we were the exception. that's why, because power came from god to the individual to the state, barack obama doesn't believe that, power resides --
>> he doesn't have to believe in your version of exceptionalism.
>> part of the american experience .
>> every person of color in america that's been a victim of the conception of american empire and conceptionalism you ask somebody like barack obama , the virtue, the beauty, the power, the efficacy of america .
>> guys, guys, guys, let me get a word in here. listen, the real issue for most voters is not really debating over grand concepts of american exceptionalism . i believe with the professor more than rick tyler but still when it comes to policy we expect mitt romney to be out there talking straight about policy, not coming up with these silly games the president doesn't believe in america . i don't know how you get away with that. nonetheless, what is our future on the ground in terms of coming up with good policies. mitt romney keeps trying to change the channel on that because he's playing into these prejudices and biases against barack obama not having an honest policy debate .
>> i appreciate that.
>> as always, thank you all three.