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Obama campaign calls Romney a foreign policy flip-flopper

In advance of tonight’s GOP foreign policy debate, the Obama campaign has put out a memo identifying all the ways the presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has “flip-flopped” on the major foreign policy issues of the day. Romney’s “penchant for changing positions is of particular concern on matters of national security,” Obama for American campaign manager ...

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In advance of tonight’s GOP foreign policy debate, the Obama campaign has put out a memo identifying all the ways the presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has “flip-flopped” on the major foreign policy issues of the day.

Romney’s “penchant for changing positions is of particular concern on matters of national security,” Obama for American campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in a memo released ahead of tonight’s CNN-AEI-Heritage debate in Washington. “A Commander-in-Chief only gets one chance to get it right. But Mitt Romney has been on all sides of the key foreign policy issues facing our nation today.”

The memo draws attention to Romney’s differing statements on Afghanistan, accuses him of having five different positions on Libya, and attacks Romney’s statements criticizing President Barack Obama for declaring that he would seek to kill extremists on both sides of the Pakistani border.

“On Libya, Romney gave a series of convoluted statements – supportive and critical of military action, and for and against the removal of Qaddafi,” Messina wrote. “On Afghanistan, while declining to outline his own strategy to wind down the war, Romney has been for and against a timetable to withdraw our troops. Romney criticized the President for making clear he would go after terrorists in Pakistan if the Pakistanis couldn’t or wouldn’t – a strategy that ultimately resulted in the elimination of Osama bin Laden.”

The Obama campaign memo also criticized Romney for not spelling out a specific way forward in Iraq and identified other alleged Romney foreign policy flip-flops, such as his position on imposing trade tariffs on China. The memo says that Romney criticized trade tariffs on China when Obama supported them, but later pledged to use tariffs to punish China for anti-competitive behavior.

“Past is never present with Mitt Romney — he will say and stand for anything to win,” the memo states. “The only surprise tonight will be if Mitt Romney doesn’t deny his record on another key issue.”

The memo is one more sign that the Obama campaign is resigned to the fact that Romney is the most likely GOP candidate to face the president in the general election and is concentrating its attention on Romney alone.

Asked for a response by The Cable, Romney for President spokesperson Andrea Saul sent along this:

“President Obama’s feckless foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries, weakened our allies, and threatens to break faith with our military. His naïve approach to Iran has allowed the ayatollahs to come to the brink of a nuclear weapon. He has repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus. And his failure to show any kind of leadership during the recent Super Committee negotiations may saddle our military with a trillion dollars in defense cuts that his own Secretary of Defense called ‘devastating.'”

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin