THE WHITE HOUSE — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden issued a stinging rebuttal Tuesday to a speech by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney condemning President Obama's foreign policy.
Biden's point-by-point written rebuttal was issued by the Obama campaign, not by the vice president's office in the White House. It came just a few hours after Romney addressed war veterans in the western city of Reno, Nevada.
From Iran, to U.S. relations with Israel, China and the Obama strategy in Afghanistan, the Romney speech was a broad assault on the president who, Romney asserted, has "diminished American leadership," leaving the world "dangerous, destructive, chaotic."
"It's a mistake and sometimes a tragic one to think that firmness in American foreign policy can only bring tension or conflict. The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision," he said.
In his speech, Romney said Obama decided to gradually withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan for political reasons, adding that the president has failed to provide Americans with a clear explanation of the mission.
Vice President Biden accused Romney of flip-flopping, first supporting a timeline for withdrawal, then opposing one. Biden said now "it is hard to know where [Romney] stands."
On Iran's nuclear program, Romney said Obama's approach of negotiations backed by sanctions and an underlying threat of military force has failed to achieve anything.
Biden said Romney did a "compelling job of laying out exactly what the administration is already doing," adding that if launching a war against Iran is what Romney is for, "he should tell the American people."
Romney, who is embarking on a two-week foreign trip that includes Israel, also accused Obama of "shabby" treatment of its major ally in the Middle East, Israel.
Biden accused Romney of repeating a "litany of untruths" while ignoring U.S. support for Israel's missile defense system, and "the most consistent and comprehensive exchanges ever between officials of both countries."
Biden also blasted Romney's repeated allegations that President Obama "abandoned" key allies Poland and the Czech Republic when he modified a Bush administration missile defense system designed to protect Europe against launches from Iran and North Korea.
Noting that Romney is about to visit Poland as part of his overseas trip, Biden called him "either profoundly misinformed or misinforming the American people."
Romney sharply criticized President Obama's "reset" of relations with Russia, noting that President Vladimir Putin continues to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The vice president said the U.S. and Russia have serious disagreements, but that cooperation, including on sanctions against Iran, has made the American people more secure."
In a campaign speech in Portland, Oregon late Tuesday, President Obama did not respond directly to Romney's attacks on his foreign policy.
But the president listed a series of successes by the U.S. military under his leadership, from ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq to bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
"We were able to end the war in Iraq, as I promised. Because of their outstanding efforts we were able to re-focus on those who actually carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks, and al-Qaida is on the run and we got [Osama] bin Laden. In Afghanistan we blunted the Taliban's momentum and now we are beginning to transition so that Afghans are in the lead for their own security and we are beginning to bring our troops home," he said.
An Obama campaign official Tuesday called the Romney attacks on President Obama "baseless."
Referring to Romney's overseas trip, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House will be watching to see if Romney adheres to a tradition of presidential candidates exercising restraint when talking about foreign policy while on overseas trips.