President Obama zings Romney over his defense knowledge and the CNN focus group loved it, especially the “bayonets” line.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Our Navy is smaller now than anytime since 1917. The Navy said they need 313 ships to carry out their mission. We are now down to 285. We are headed to the low 200’s if we go through a Sequestration that is unacceptable to me. I want to make sure we have the ships required by our Navy. Our Air Force is older and smaller than anytime since it was founded in 1947. We have changed for the first time since FDR. Since FDR we have always had the strategy of saying we can fight in two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict. Look, this in my view is the highest responsibility of the President of the United States which is to maintain the safety of the American people, and I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is the combination of the budget cuts the President has as well as the sequestration cuts. That in my view is making our future less certain and less secure.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob, I need to comment on this. First of all this sequester is not something I proposed, it is something Congress proposed. It will not happen. The budget we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending, it’s maintaining it, but I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them, we have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines, and so the question is not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s what are our capabilities. And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith in our troops that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home, and that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you’re putting forward because it just doesn’t work. We visited the web site quite a bit, and it still doesn’t work.