Romney makes pledges to vets
Thursday, August 30, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told veterans Wednesday that he’ll make finding jobs for them a priority as he accused Democratic President Barack Obama of weakening the nation’s defenses.
Invoking the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — referring to “a plume of smoke on a clear blue morning” — Romney said protecting the country is the president’s highest duty as he worked to pitch himself as a potential commander in chief. He told an American Legion meeting in Indiana that he’s already started planning how to change veterans’ services to help them during a Romney administration.
“I’m going to make reforming that agency a personal priority,” Romney said, ticking through a series of policy promises. He said he would allow GI Bill beneficiaries to attend any public school at in-state tuition rates, encourage states to create a common system to recognize credentials veterans have earned through military training, and allow veterans to seek care from the active duty military’s TRICARE health system if they can’t get timely health services from the VA.
Romney criticized the series of automatic defense cuts that will begin in January 2013 unless Congress acts to stop it. His vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, voted to approve the legislation that authorized those cuts alongside reductions in domestic spending.
In the address, the Republican nominee highlighted why defense and foreign policy experience can be so critical.
“You and I know that our debates can change suddenly, with a ringing phone in the dead of night, or a grim-faced reporter in the middle of the day. Or a plume of smoke on a clear blue morning,” Romney said.
He began his remarks to the American Legion by acknowledging the tropical storm churning over the Gulf Coast, flooding communities in Louisiana and threatening lives.
“I appreciate this invitation to join you on dry land this afternoon,” Romney joked as he opened his remarks. “Our thoughts are of course with the people of the Gulf Coast states. Seven years ago today, they were bracing for Hurricane Katrina.”
Behind the scenes, GOP officials said Romney and his team were considering a visit to the hurricane strike zone. They said there were no current plans to change Romney’s convention schedule and no decisions had been made about a potential visit.
With rain beating down on New Orleans and flooding intensifying, eyes are turning to the battered Gulf Coast. Romney’s campaign has been keeping in touch with governors in the region, particularly Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Campaign officials have also been in contact with the American Red Cross and the National Weather Service.