CONCORD, N.H. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his decision not to discuss the Afghanistan war in his convention speech.
As he drove from former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey’s home in Vermont to his own estate on Lake Winnipesaukee,the GOP nominee stopped to visit veterans. Asked by a reporter why he decided not to discuss the Afghanistan war on his party’s biggest stage last week, Romney pointed to an address he gave to the American Legion the night before as evidence of his commitment to the armed forces.
‘‘The president was also invited to the American Legion, and he was too busy to go. It was during my convention,’’ Romney said, military veterans standing around him. ‘‘I went to the American Legion, described my views with regards to our military, my commitment to our military, my commitment to our men and women in uniform.’’
Romney was the first GOP nominee since 1952 to not mention war in his convention speech. He flew to Indianapolis the day before his address to the GOP convention to speak to the veterans’ organization.
Romney’s omission of Afghanistan in Tampa reflected weak public support for the Afghan war, fatigue over a decade of terrorism fears, and the central role of the economy in the campaign. But it was still a remarkable shift in tone for a party that, even in peacetime, has used the specter of war to call for greater military spending and tough foreign policy.
Romney’s remarks Thursday came during a brief stop to greet veterans who were calling other New Hampshire residents on the GOP candidate’s behalf. The stop preceded a barrage of criticism of Romney’s omission, particularly from Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, during the Democrats’ final convention night.
Romney said he was not planning to watch Obama’s convention address.
Romney said, though, that if Obama ‘‘is going to report on the promises he made and how he has performed in those promises, I’d love to watch it.”
Ohio delegates feeling the pressure to help Obama win battleground
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Standing only a few feet away from the stage at the Democratic National Convention with Ohio’s delegates, Diana Nazelli says she is both wooed and pressured.
Besides the prime viewing location inside the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, and the parade of Ohio speakers featured on stage, Buckeye State delegates have heard from party luminaries who tell them they are at ground zero for the presidential race and responsible for President Obama’s reelection.
‘‘I feel appreciated,’’ said Nazelli, 68, a saleswoman from suburban Cleveland wearing a hat with a small state flag attached to the back and a banner that read, ‘‘Ohio Worker Bee 4 Obama.’’ ‘‘It makes me nervous that Ohio could be that important.’’
With Ohio and its 18 electoral votes poised to help decide the election, the state’s 235 delegates and alternates to the Democratic convention are being courted and urged to work for Obama’s reelection as if civilization depends on it.
The battleground of 11.5 million residents, the seventh-largest state, put President George W. Bush over the top for reelection in 2004 and helped elect Obama in 2008 with 51.5 percent of the vote. Republicans took control of the governor’s office with John Kasich in 2010, and other statewide executive offices. The jobless rate in the Buckeye State was 7.2 percent in July, the lowest since September 2008.
T-shirt vendors at convention making money off GOP insults
Are Democrats in Charlotte insulted by the taunts Republicans are throwing at them? Well, sure, but at least the derision is boosting the economy.
One street vendor near the convention center was drawing customers Thursday with exuberant shouts of ‘‘More T-shirts than four years ago!’’ That was a play on the Republicans’ pointed question to voters: ‘‘Are you better off than four years ago’’ when Barack Obama took office? And sales were brisk for stacks of shirts showing a seated Obama and the slogan: ‘‘This seat is taken,’’ a retort to Clint Eastwood.
Markey likens Romney’s stance on global warming to empty chair
WASHINGTON — Representative Edward Markey, borrowing a line from Clint Eastwood’s script, likened Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday to an empty chair when it comes to global warming.
Romney used to talk about climate change as governor of Massachusetts “and not make jokes about it,” Markey said in Charlotte, N.C., at an event sponsored by The Hill newspaper. “But talking to that Governor Romney today would be like talking to an empty chair. There is no conversation you can have with him.”
Markey, a Democrat from Malden and the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, was poking fun at what he and others say is Romney’s evolving view on climate change.
During the Republican National Convention, Eastwood delivered a rambling speech in which he had a conversation with an empty chair that was supposed to be a stand in for President Obama.
As governor, Romney supported limits on carbon emissions and considered participating with other Northeast states in a cap-and-trade program before backing out.
While Romney has previously acknowledged the human role in climate change, he says it is just one among other factors in deciding policy.
At his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week, Romney tweaked the president for promising to “slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet,” suggesting that his priority would be “to help you and your family.”
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN