Mitt Romney in a major speech Monday will call for a change of course in U.S. foreign policy -- saying the recent, deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya is part of a “profound upheaval” and that “hope is not a strategy.”
The speech will mark one of Romney’s final opportunities before Election Day to show his potential as a world leader -- amid political turmoil in the Middle East.
“The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East -- a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century,” Romney will say, according to speech excerpts provided by the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign.
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope,” Romney continues. “But hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds.”
Romney is set to speak at Virginia Military Institute at 11:20 a.m. ET.
The Obama campaign tried to undercut Romney's speech with a TV ad and lengthy memo Monday morning questioning whether the Republican candidate would move beyond "swagger and slogans" and talk specifics.
The campaign claimed Romney has "repeatedly taken positions outside of the mainstream and often to the right of even George W. Bush" and "wants to take us back to the same with-us-or-against-us approach that got us into wars without getting us out of them."
Romney’s success on foreign policy has thus far had mixed reviews. He has drawn widespread praise from conservatives and fellow Republicans for his full support of Israel’s quest to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.
However, critics argue Romney made some missteps during his overseas trip this summer. He questioned whether England had enough security in place for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Then in Israel, he declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state, which U.S. administrations have refused to accept for decades given Palestinian claims to the ancient city.
More recently, Romney was highly critical of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and the ensuing Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Romney has continued his criticism and calls for more information from the administration about the facts surrounding the attacks, saying as recently as Thursday the Libya incident was a “tragic failure.”
Romney will deliver his speech Monday morning at the Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington, Va. The Romney campaign suggested last week that Romney will continue to tell Americans that if elected, he would make national defense a top priority and that he opposes the “devastating defense cuts” on which Obama has insisted.
“He will offer a stark contrast between his vision for a strong foreign policy and the failed record of President Obama,” the campaign said.
The speech also comes before the two remaining presidential debates that will focus in part on foreign policy. Obama has consistently outscored Romney in polls asking about national security leadership, but the administration is struggling to deal with the aftermath of the attack in Libya.
After originally saying it was a “spontaneous” assault sparked by outrage over an anti-Islamic video trailer, the administration later acknowledged the assault was a pre-planned terror attack.
“The attack on our consulate … was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney is expected to say Monday. “This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long. … These attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others.”
The FBI is investigating and the State Department is conducting its own internal probe. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “No one wants to determine what happened that night in Benghazi more than the president and I do."
But the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs is going ahead with its own investigation. The committee hearings are scheduled to begin Wednesday. Fox News confirmed Saturday the committee has subpoenaed Utah Army National Guard Green Beret Lt. Col. Andy Wood, who led a 16-member Special Forces site security team responsible for protecting U.S. personnel at the consulate.
In addition to offering a plan to deal with Libya and reported terrorists in that country, Romney also is expected to outline his specific plans to deal with problems in Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and Israel. “I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values—and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us,” he is expected to say.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.