4:46 pm ET
In watching the President’s remarks Thursday in Golden, Colorado at a campaign event, what was striking was the degree to which his Bushian tough talk generated from the crowd the same level of patriotic fervor that 43 inspired:
“So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. (Applause.) I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”
And Obama went on to utter more crowd-pleasing lines that could also have come from his predecessor about America:
“This is a tumultuous time that we’re in. But we can, and we will, meet those challenges if we stay true to who we are, and if we would remind ourselves that we’re different from other nations. We’re different not only because of the incredible landscape that God has given us; we’re different because we’re a nation that’s bound together by a creed. We’re not made up of a single tribe or a single religion or a single race. We’re a collection of people from all around the world who came here because of a certain set of principles — the idea that all men and women are created equal; that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. That’s what binds us together. That’s what our flag means.
“But we also believe that these are not just American rights. We believe these are universal aspirations, and they’re held by people who live in tiny villages in Libya, prosperous cities in Europe. That’s our light to the world. And our task, as the most powerful nation on Earth, is to defend and protect and advance our people, but also to defend and protect and advance those values at home and around the world. That’s what our troops do. That’s what our diplomats do. That’s what our intelligence officers do. That’s what our citizens do. That’s what we believe. Those are the values that we hold to.”
There’s been a fair amount of criticism of Governor Romney’s Wednesday remarks about the situation in Libya and Egypt. What Obama’s words in Colorado bring to mind is another aspect of Romney’s comments that seemed politically tone-deaf: they were negative and harsh, rather than optimistic and uplifting.
Romney is running out of time for people to see him as a president and a commander-in-chief. Wednesday’s performance, for many eyes and ears, fell short of that goal, particularly compared to Obama’s style and rhetoric Thursday.
That’s why my hunch is Romney will, after the heat of this week’s events cools down, give a planned and formal national security speech that incorporates a more positive vision of America’s role in the world than he enunciated with his initial searing criticism of the current administration.