Sen. John McCain delivered a rueful speech critical of President Obama's foreign policy to Republican convention delegates Wednesday night, saying Obama has "discouraged our friends and emboldened our enemies."
Much has changed since McCain last addressed Republican delegates at the party's convention in 2008.
He's not the party's presidential nominee, economic issues have overshadowed all else, and the nation has pulled back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- all of which the senator from Arizona acknowledged.
"I had hopes once of addressing you under different circumstances," McCain said, speaking to the 2012 convention on his 76th birthday.
"It is said this election will turn on domestic and economic issues. But what Mitt Romney knows, and what we know, is that the success at home also depends on our leadership in the world," he said. "It is our willingness to shape world events for the better that has kept us safe, increased our prosperity, preserved our liberty and transformed human history."
McCain charged that Obama's multilateral approach, often working through the United Nations, would "give governments in Russia and China a veto over how we defend our interests and the progress of our values in the world."
Though he never mentioned his former rival by name, McCain said Obama's inaction in Syria has led to a "savage and unfair fight" by the regime of Bashar Assad. McCain said Obama has overseen "crippling" budget cuts to the military. And he said committing to a withdrawal timeline in Afghanistan put the mission at risk.
McCain's most forcefully delivered line was an indictment of the Obama administration's handling of the story of the successful raid on Osama bin Laden last year. "We can't afford to have the security of our nation and those who bravely defend it endangered because their government leaks the secrets of their heroic operations to the media," he said.
McCain said the United States could not afford to let its friends doubt America's leadership, and he singled out Israel, which he said was "a nation under existential threat."
To punctuate that point, the convention followed McCain's speech with a short video of Romney at Jerusalem's wailing wall last month touting America's "enduring alliance" with Israel.
McCain passed the baton to Romney, saying he trusted the party's new nominee to "know that if America doesn't lead, our adversaries will, and the world will grow darker, poorer and much more dangerous."
Obama supporters said McCain failed to articulate what a Romney foreign policy would look like. "I don't think there is a Romney doctrine -- other than whatever Obama is for, he's against," said Bruce Jentleson, a foreign policy adviser to former vice president Al Gore and an Obama surrogate.
Americans don't want a president who's gun-shy, he said. "But the Republicans carry on as though the answer to every question is the use of military force."
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