GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney today recounted the exact moments when he learned of the horrifying terrorist attacks that took place in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania exactly eleven years ago.
In a speech to the National Guard Association Conference in Reno, Nevada, Romney said he was preparing for the upcoming Winter Olympics in a downtown Washington, D.C. office when news of the attacks first broke.
“A colleague and I were working in our office in the Ronald Reagan building – just a few blocks from the White House. Someone rushed into our office and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I turned on the small TV on the desk and watched in shock as flames and smoke erupted from the North Tower. I called my wife Ann. She too watched the tragedy from her TV and wondered how a plane could fly into a building in clear daylight. And then we saw the second plane crash into the second tower. These, then, were purposeful acts, these were terrorist acts, these were evil and cowardly and heinous acts.”
Romney, who was ridiculed by Democrats for failing to salute America’s troops during his GOP convention speech last month, heaped praise upon the National Guard for “taking the lead” in the effort to clean up debris and save lives in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
He also tipped his hat to the Navy SEALS who captured and killed Osama bin Laden last year, and noted that as Governor, he made it a point to phone members of the Massachusetts National Guard, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Many of those calls left me with tears in my eyes,” Romney said. ”I will never forget meeting the brave men and women who had volunteered for the National Guard in Massachusetts, who found themselves on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will never forget speaking with their loved ones. And I will always hold the greatest admiration for every one of them.”
Romney briefly hit a few policy notes in his speech, saying that while America’s goal in Afghanistan should be a “successful transition” from NATO to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, leaders must “evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.”
He also railed against cuts the nation’s defense budget, which he said would “hollow out our military.”
“We can always find places to end waste,” Romney said. ”But we cannot cancel program after program, we cannot jeopardize critical missions, and we cannot cut corners in the quality of the equipment and training we provide.”
Throughout the campaign, Romney and leading Republicans in Congress have called on President Obama to find a way to cancel roughly $500 billion in defense cuts that could begin taking effect in January.