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Romney's questioner responds

Mark Riss, who asked a question of Mitt Romney at last week's debate, sent us this note:

"A few points about my comment directed to Mr. Romney. The question posed to him that prompted his initial response should never have been asked in the first place. It was designed to have him give the wrong answer and in this case it succeeded.

"Mr. Romney was absolutely correct in the first part of his response, in that we have a volunteer military. His sons have absolutely no obligation to serve. However, Mr. Romney has been in the public arena for quite some time. The nature of his position requires he choose his words with some care, and I'm sure by now that is second nature to him.

"Do I think he was disrespecting our troops' service? No. Poorly chosen words or not, do I believe he was at least somewhat serious when he compared that service with his sons'? Yes, and to me that shows a serious lack of empathy and a disconnect with a segment of society he wishes to lead. I would suggest Mr. Romney's wife never watched the evening news crying over an injury suffered to someone else's son on the campaign trail.

"Were my wife and I offended by his comment? Absolutely. You rarely if ever get the chance to respond in person (so to speak) to a comment someone in Mr. Romney's position makes that affects you, and it felt good to get the chance to do so. I wasn't looking for a mea culpa from Mr. Romney, I just wanted him to know how my wife and I felt.

"The writer's comments about my being "obviously emotionally overheated" were way off the mark. Passionate, yes, but I knew what I was saying. His comment on that matter leads me to believe he has no relative who has served in the war on terror, or he might better understand where we were coming from. We're not going to vote for Mr. Romney, but lots of other people will. Time to move on to other issues."

Here, from the transcript, is the exchange between Riss and Romney at the debate:

MARK RISS: Yes, what I’m obviously most interested in is how we can bring an endgame to the war in Iraq and yet still do it so that it’s a victory for us and a victory for the people of Iraq. And my question is to Governor Romney.

And that is, I’ve heard the other people up there articulate themselves a little bit better. But in your answer, I didn’t hear how you would end it. I didn’t hear an endgame plan from you and I would like a response on that.

And also along those same lines, sir, a comment.

I don’t think you fully understand how offended my wife and I were and probably the rest of the people who have sons, daughters, husbands and wives serving in the war on terror to compare your sons' attempts to get you elected (with) my son’s service in Iraq. (Cheers, applause.) I know you apologized a couple days later up there, a firestorm started. But it was wrong, sir, and you never should have said it.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, there is no comparison, of course. There’s no question. But the honor that we have for men and women who serve in armed forces is a place of honor we will never forget, and nothing compares to it. People who are willing to put their life on the line for American freedom are in a league of their own, and we owe them their -- our respect. And the sacrifice they make is something we’ll never forget.

The issue -- and I think Congressman Tancredo hit the nail on the head. This is not about broken pottery, and it’s also not about just getting out because we made a mistake. This is a global conflict going on. Radical, violent jihad. This effort ranges from Indonesia, Nigeria, and through Europe and into America, and this battlefield of Iraq is a place where we have to be successful because the consequences of what will happen on this global battlefield are enormous. And that’s why it’s so important for us to be successful with the surge, and I agree, it looks successful. I certainly hope it’s going to be fully successful. And as we are able to do that, we’re going to see ourselves able to continue in our efforts to overwhelm jihad.

The key is this: We need a global strategy -- and on my website you’ll see it -- a global strategy to help us overcome jihad globally because this is the threat which faces the entire civilized world.