Even Mitt Romney's allies found it hard to believe: in his first national address as the Republican Party's official presidential nominee, Romney delivered a 4,000-word speech that failed to acknowledge the war the U.S. is still fighting.
The word "Afghanistan" was not uttered, even in passing. There were no references to "veterans" or "troops," either. The Associated Press found that, despite the fact that the U.S. is in the midst of the longest war in our history, Romney "became the first Republican since 1952 to accept his party's nomination without mentioning war."
Yesterday, Team Romney tried to justify the omission.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior campaign aide said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that in giving a talk to American Legion in Indianapolis, Romney had mentioned Afghanistan and possible defense cuts.
"Governor Romney thought it was a privilege to be speaking to people who had served," he said, "and in that speech, he talked about Afghanistan, and he also talked about the $1 trillion in defense cuts taking place under this president."
First, half the $1 trillion in defense cuts are coming from congressional Republicans, including Romney's running mate. For Fehrnstrom to suggest otherwise is dishonest.
Second, this explanation for ignoring an ongoing war is wholly unpersuasive. It's true that on Wednesday, Romney delivered remarks to the American Legion, which were not nationally televised. It was a 2,000-word speech, and this was the entirety of the candidate's comments on the war: "And we are still at war in Afghanistan. We still have uniformed men and women in conflict, risking their lives just as you once did."
That's it. That's literally all Romney had to say on the subject. A day later, Romney spoke to the nation, and said nothing about the conflict or those fighting in our name.
Fehrnstrom's argument, in effect, is, "You expect the would-be Commander in Chief to mention an ongoing war twice?" Yes, Eric, we do.
If Romney becomes president early next year, he'll have tens of thousands of American troops on the ground in Afghanistan -- but no one seems to have any idea what he intends to do with them or when he might want to consider bringing them home.
The fact that Romney seems to forget the nation is at war isn't an encouraging sign.