CONCORD, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his decision not to discuss the Afghanistan war in his convention speech. He said he didn't plan to watch President Barack Obama's convention address but offered some advice, saying Obama should discuss promises he has already made instead of offering new ones.
As Obama prepared to deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Republican nominee stopped to visit veterans as he drove from an adviser's home in Vermont to his own estate on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. 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 Republican nominee since 1952 to not mention war during his convention speech. He flew to Indianapolis the day before his address to the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., to speak to the veterans' organization.
Romney's omission of Afghanistan in his Tampa remarks reflected weak public support for the Afghanistan 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 times of peace, 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. They were gathered on a Romney-logoed campaign bus parked outside the New Hampshire Statehouse.
After snapping photos with supporters, the Republican nominee told reporters that he isn't planning to watch Obama's convention address Thursday night.
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. But if it's another series of new promises that he's not going to keep, I have no interest in seeing him because I saw the promises last time."
Romney pointed to the national debt, an increase in food stamp recipients and a drop in incomes as evidence that Obama had not followed through on promises he made.
"Over the last four years, the president has said he was going to create jobs for the American people and that hasn't happened," Romney said.
The Republican nominee said he hasn't watched any of the speeches at the Democratic convention so far. First lady Michelle Obama spoke Tuesday, and former President Bill Clinton gave a lengthy address Wednesday night.
"I hear Bill Clinton spoke for like, 50 minutes?" Romney said.
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Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001
<em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>
Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000
<em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>
Number of Troops at War's Peak
<em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.
<em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.
Number of U.S. Casualties
<em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.
Afghan Civilian Casualties
<em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.
Cost of the War
<em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan
<em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.