NPR logo Romney: If You Want Weaker America, You Have That President Today

Mitt Romney

Romney: If You Want Weaker America, You Have That President Today

The line that got the biggest applause in Mitt Romney's national-security speech in South Carolina Friday, sure to be repeated for many a news cycle, was this:

"This is America's moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America's time has passed. That is utter nonsense. An eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender.

"I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your President. You have that President today."

Unfortunately for President Obama and Democrats, that sentiment, rightly or not, rings true to many Americans.

A recent Gallup Poll found a higher percentage of Americans saying Republicans would do better job at both making the nation more prosperous and protecting it from military and terrorist threats. So there's a very fertile field out there for the seeds Romney sowed in his speech.

A daunting challenge for Obama will be changing in enough minds for it to matter the view that has hardened over the decades that Democrats are weak on national security.

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And this despite Obama having escalated the drone war against terrorist suspects and overseeing the killings of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.