Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mitt Romney: Non-proliferation a “Liberal” Issue

In an interview with CNN Anchor John Roberts this morning, former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called non-proliferation a “liberal” issue. Roberts' take on the interview and Romney's bizarre labeling is below.

Just when you think you’ve heard everything in this race for the White House, along comes something truly surprising. Such was the case on Thursday's American Morning. I was speaking with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney about Sen. John McCain's new line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama. McCain hopes to paint Obama as a politician who puts party and self-interest above the needs of the nation, claiming that the Illinois senator has “never been a part of a bipartisan group that came together to solve a controversial issue”.

This morning, Romney faithfully repeated that charge. When I pointed out that Obama reached across party lines to work with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, on a non-proliferation measure, and with Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, on increasing gas mileage requirements, Romney shot back, saying that “Actually, on both cases, you’re talking about two liberal positions, non-proliferation as well as the gasoline mileage."

It struck me as rather odd – having covered five years of the Bush administration as a White House correspondent – that the governor would view non-proliferation as a “liberal” issue. I seem to recall a little ditty called the “Proliferation Security Initiative,” launched by President Bush on May 31, 2003. The aim of the initiative is to enlist the nations of the world to “stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.” Whether the program is a success is very much in question (though the administration claims it is), but I’ve never heard anyone call it a “liberal” position.

So what about the Lugar-Obama measure – conceived as an adjunct to the Proliferation Security Initiative - did it qualify as “liberal?” Here’s how Lugar’s office described it in a press release: “The Lugar-Obama initiative enhances U.S. efforts to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles and to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction throughout the world.” Lugar has a bit of a middling score from the American Conservative Union (78.02 lifetime) and has been called a ‘moderate’ from time to time. But ‘liberal’? I asked Lugar’s press secretary Andy Fisher about it this morning “National security is not liberal,” he told me, “At all.”

It’s true that two of the biggest non-proliferation measures have been passed by Democrats – the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 1978 Non-Proliferation Act (John Glenn D-Ohio), but every president since Eisenhower has sought to curb the spread of either nuclear weapons, or the missiles to deliver them.


With so much on the line in this election, we’ll likely hear plenty of wild charges thrown back and forth. Some, it seems, will be a little wilder than others.

1 comment:

Tech Guy Stevie 789 said...

Proliferation is going to be a key issue whether or not a 'liberal' sits in the White House come January. With the current president pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and blatant ambivalence towards the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the next President is really going to have to take a stand or proliferation is going to snowball--regardless of affiliation and political labels.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is circulating an Appeal to the Next US President, calling for US leadership for a nuclear weapons-free world.

You can read it and sign online at