Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laid out his vision for a post-Obama American foreign policy on Friday in a speech at The Citadel in South Carolina. A full transcript of Romney's remarks is available HERE. Romney did not hold back in his criticism of the sitting Commander-In-Chief, directly challenging President Obama on several occasions. The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren noticed a striking political moment during the address:
In his closing argument, Romney contrasted his vision of America's role in the world with that of Obama. "I will not surrender America’s role in the world," he said. "This is very simple. If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today." The cadets applauded.
This got me wondering -- did they applaud politely, or was their approval of Romney's political attack more visceral? Verum Serum combed through the video, and clipped the relevant portion:
The key sentence, just after the 1:00 mark, prompts passionate, sustained applause from the Cadets. A noteworthy nugget from Politico's Ben Smith -- Romney's speech took place at The Citadel, but was not an official academy event:
When Mitt Romney spoke before a backdrop of uniformed cadets at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina today, the event projected the look and feel of a formal military affair. But the speech was not, in fact, an official Citadel event: Romney's campaign paid $1,000 to rent the room and, per Citadel protocol, the military academy forbade staff members from attending in military uniform.
"They wanted to encourage students to come and attend the event, but because it’s a political event we can’t require students to go," said spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells, who noted that The Citadel is a state-funded institution. She said an informal campus visit yesterday by former Speaker Newt Gingrich had not been covered by the policy.
In other words, cadets were not required to show up for this address; everyone who attended did so on their own volition. Romney drew quite a crowd, which indicates a high degree of political interest and awareness on campus. It also suggests that the audience may have been fairly self-selective, which could partially explain its anti-Obama sentiment. Perhaps Obama supporters will take some small solace in that fact, because the optics of young military volunteers loudly cheering direct criticism of their current Commander-In-Chief is a powerful and damning moment.