Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Mother asks Romney to stop stories

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney, Ohio (AP/Mike Munden)
Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney, Ohio (AP/Mike Munden)

The mother of a former Navy SEAL killed in Libya has called on Mitt Romney to stop talking about her son during his presidential campaign.

A spokesman for the Republican candidate said Mr Romney will respect her wishes.

In recent days he has been telling voters of a chance encounter with the former SEAL, Glen Doherty, at a Christmas party two or three years ago. Mr Doherty was among four Americans killed in the attacks in Benghazi.

Mr Romney told the story at least twice in the last two days as part of a larger push to show a more personal side and criticise president Barack Obama's foreign policy. Mr Romney, like other Republicans, has repeatedly raised questions about the President's handling of the September 11 attack in Libya.

The Benghazi terrorist strike that left US ambassador Christopher Stevens dead was a centrepiece of Mr Romney's high-profile foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute earlier in the week. But Mr Doherty's mother Barbara told Boston television station WHDH she wanted Mr Romney to stop citing her son. "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda. It's wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama," Mrs Doherty said.

Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said: "Governor Romney was inspired by the memory of meeting Glen Doherty and shared his story and that memory, but we respect the wishes of Mrs Doherty."

Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and vice president Joe Biden are preparing for their only debate of the 2012 campaign with Mr Romney's camp looking to build on his newfound momentum, while Mr Obama's camp hopes to stop his slide in the wake of a lacklustre performance at last week's debate.

The vice presidential debate in Kentucky comes at a volatile moment in the election, putting the contrasting political skills of Mr Biden and Mr Ryan on display for millions of viewers less than four weeks before election day.

Vice presidential encounters rarely make a significant difference in a White House campaign, although aides engage in the same sort of attempt to shape public expectations as when the men at the top of the ticket are ready to face off. So, while it's tempting to cast the vice presidential debate as a pivotal event, the encounter is more likely to set a tone and a foundation for Tuesday's town hall-style debate between Mr Obama and Mr Romney in Hempstead, New York.

Public opinion polls suggested the impact of last week's presidential debate was to wipe out most, if not all, of the gains Mr Obama made following both parties' national conventions and the emergence in late summer of a videotape in which Mr Romney spoke dismissively of the 47% of Americans whom he said pay no income taxes, feel like victims and do not take personal responsibilities for their lives.

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