Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) may have thought he’d be the 2012 newsmaker of the day with his decision not to seek the presidency. But it turns out a man who’s very much in the race, Mitt Romney, may have upstaged him with a gaffe about America’s military stance.
On Monday morning, Romney told readers of the Manchester, NH Union-Leader in an op-ed that Americans are living in a “peacetime” economy.
Six hours later, in the wake of withering criticism from progressives and veterans, Team Romney said the turn of phrase was a mistake.
Steve Benen first noticed Romney’s use of “peacetime” to describe America’s fiscal situation, which of course includes paying for three wars.
From Romney’s op-ed:
Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale. Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history. With its failed stimulus package, its grandiose new social programs, its fervor for more taxes and government regulations, and its hostility toward business, the administration has made the debt problem worse, hindered economic recovery and needlessly cost American workers countless jobs.
“Sure, foreign policy and national security aren’t Romney’s strong points,” Benen wrote, “but as slow as he is on the uptake, I’d like to think he knows what ‘peacetime’ is, and what it isn’t.”
Then came a scathing attack from VetVoice, the progressive-leaning veterans groups. Under the headline “Servicemembers: You’re not at war,” VetVoice’s Richard Allen Smith listed the name of 36 servicemembers he said have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since April 1.
“Romney forgetting that we have troops in harms way in three different theaters is astonishing,” wrote. “Or at least it should be.”
By the end of the day, Team Romney abandoned the phrase.
“He meant to say since World War II,” Romney spokesperson Eric Ferhstrom told Dave Weigel.