The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Romney says he wants answers on Libya security failure
By Chelyen Davis
The Free Lance-Star
CHESTERFIELD — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said vice-president Joe Biden “directly contradicted the sworn testimony of state department officials” in a question about Libya in Thursday night’s debate, and said he will push for clearer answers from the Obama administration.
“We need to understand exactly what happened, not just brush this aside,” Romney said.
In the debate, Biden said that the administration wasn’t aware of requests for more security in Libya from the embassy on Sept. 11, before the embassy was attacked and Ambassador Chris Stevens and others killed.</strong>
In response, Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in an email that Romney is politicizing the issue.
“As Secretary Clinton said today, the President and his administration have been focused on getting the facts about what happened in Libya, finding the terrorists responsible, and bringing them to justice,” Smith wrote. “But Mitt Romney has repeatedly rushed to launch political attacks without knowing all the facts.”
Romney was speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of about 3,000 supporters at an outdoor rally in Chesterfield.
He praised running mate Paul Ryan’s performance in the vice-presidential debate the night before, calling it “thoughtful, respectful, steady and poised,” and said voters “are looking for answers, not attacks.”
But he got the biggest cheers from the crowd when he mentioned his own debate against President Barack Obama last week, in which Romney had a strong performance.
Bringing up some contentions points from that debate, Romney claimed that Obama’s health care plan raises taxes on the middle class, and disputed an Obama debate claim that Romney’s tax plan raises taxes on that group.
“I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America, and I won’t raise taxes on small businesses,” Romney said.
The Obama claim that Romney’s tax plan would raise middle class taxes comes from a study from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which said that to pay for the across-the-board lowering of the tax rate Romney has promised, other taxes, most likely on the middle class, would have to be raised.
Republicans have said the Tax Policy Center study relied on assumptions and ignored other aspects of Romney’s plan to eliminate a number of tax deductions, and that other studies show different, more favorable results.
A mention of Obama’s health insurance law drew boos, and Romney promised to repeal it.
He also criticized Obama for proposing budget cuts to defense, in addition to looming cuts to defense that could kick in in January as a result of a bipartisan debt deal last year.
Obama has proposed reducing defense spending in the next decade; the Pentagon’s budget has increased dramatically since 2001. That’s separate from the “sequestration” cuts that could start next year.
Romney said he would not support any funding cuts or downsizing for military and defense programs.
“I will restore our military budget and not cut the military,” Romney said. “I can’t understand a president … cutting our military. America’s military must be so strong no one would think of testing it.”
Romney reiterated the five-point economic plan that both he and Ryan have mentioned in debates, saying they would increase use of domestic energy sources, expand foreign trade opportunities, shift job training programs to states and “cut and cap” federal spending and “get us on track to a balanced budget.”
Romney has spent a lot of time in Virginia recently; this is his fourth day in Virginia since last Thursday.
The state is a battleground this year, a relatively new status for Virginians — the state was reliably red in presidential elections for decades until it went for Obama in 2008. Both campaigns have made frequent stops here.
Polls out this week suggest the race is tightening in Virginia, where Obama held a slight lead before the first presidential debate.
Romney and Obama will debate again on Tuesday night.