The 2012 GOP presidential nominee went after Clinton in particular for arguing that the five Taliban detainees released last month in exchange for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl aren’t a threat to the United States.
“That may be one of the most clueless responses I’ve heard in a long time, because of course you don’t throw our allies under the bus,” Romney said, “You recognize as well we have soldiers in Afghanistan, and the reason we’re there in the first place is to protect United States’ interests and our security needs.”
“So I don’t know where she’s coming from,” he continued. “I frankly think this is a continuation of a pattern of the Obama-Hillary Clinton foreign policy, and it hasn’t worked.”
In an interview this week, Clinton pushed back at the notion that America is less safe now that five prominent Guantanamo detainees are out of U.S. custody. They were handed over to Qatar, where they are supposed to remain for a year and be monitored but basically free to live their lives.
“These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” she said. “They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them.”
Fired up, Romney said Clinton’s biggest weakness if she runs for president will be defending her record as America’s top diplomat.
“There’s almost not a place in the world that’s better off because of her leadership in the State Department,” he argued.
Romney also weighed in on the growing turmoil in Iraq, where a militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is threatening to take over more cities, including the capital, Baghdad.
The President said Thursday that Iraq needs more help from the United States and he “will not rule anything out” in terms of assistance.
Romney, however, faulted Obama for not reaching a status of forces agreement with Iraq, in which the United States would have left thousands of soldiers in the country.
“This is the consequence of a president who did not take the right actions at the time opportunity presented itself,” he said.
“A policy of weakness and accommodation that came from the Obama and Hillary Clinton team is one that’s led to very serious and negative results,” he later added.
At an event Thursday promoting her new book, Clinton talked about the administration’s efforts to obtain an agreement, but said Iraq flatly refused.
“There was a lot of effort to work through with the (Nuri al-) Maliki government what such a status of forces agreement would look like,” she said. “At the end of the day, the Maliki government would not agree.”
She described the current unrest in Iraq as a “dreadful, deteriorating situation.”
Asked if she would consider leaving residual forces in Afghanistan beyond 2016, the deadline Obama has laid out, Clinton said she would be open to that depending on the conditions at the time.
Clinton has used the book tour to highlight her time as secretary of state. Asked Wednesday what her biggest accomplishment was, Clinton said “helping to restore American leadership.”
She listed a number of achievements and diplomatic moves, such as bridging “an international coalition to bring Iran to the negotiating table” and “passing a treaty through the Senate… to get back to inspecting missile sites and lowering the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States.”
She also noted “building relations with China,” standing “up for peace in the Middle East” and engineering “three face-to-face meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.”