EN ROUTE TO AFGHANISTAN — Dear Gov. Romney,
It seems as if every pundit, campaign consultant and professor of political science has been on the air or in print lately, offering advice on how you can "jump-start," "turn around" or "reset" your presidential campaign. Most of them say that your best chance of "regaining momentum" will be during the upcoming presidential debates. Seeing as I will be in Afghanistan keeping company with our American heroes while you're debating their current commander in chief, this seems like a pretty good time to send you some of what I have heard them say.
But first, here's why this is important to their future and yours:
The soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines I have been covering for Fox News for more than 11 years know that they are engaged in a real war against a brutal, often suicidal enemy. They know this isn't just an "overseas contingency operation."
Nearly 3 million young Americans have volunteered for this long fight, and many have served multiple tours of duty in harm's way. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 6,500 of them have been killed in action, and more than 49,000 have been wounded. When the 1.5 million currently on active duty and their 9 million family members can get absentee ballots, they vote. So do the nearly 22 million veterans and their family members from previous wars, such as those you addressed at American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, Va.
Though those who have served and currently serve in uniform represent a broad cross section of the electorate, these patriots are generally better-educated than the rest of our countrymen, somewhat more conservative politically and remarkably straightforward about their God-fearing faith. Active-duty members, reservists, veterans and their family members understand the full meaning of self-sacrifice, accountability, responsibility, hard work and commitment. As a group, they are better-informed about current events and care deeply about America and our nation's future. They know real leadership when they see it and resent being taken for granted.
They have heard all the things wrong with the current administration and don't need to have it rehashed. They all know that Osama bin Laden is dead. They also know from current events in the Middle East that the White House lied to everyone about how bin Laden's demise would end the radical Islamist jihad being waged against us.
There is too little time left in this campaign to go back over all of the ways the incumbent administration has failed our nation's security. What's important now is that you tell veterans and active-duty service members how you would do better. And here's the bottom line: There are millions of Americans who have served in uniform. They and their families can make a big difference in the so-called swing states.
To that end, I proffer a few lines you may want to use in the upcoming debates. Full disclosure here: These aren't my ideas. This is what the brightest and bravest of this generation now in uniform hope to hear from our next president:
—If you make me your commander in chief, I will bow to God Almighty — but never to a foreign potentate.
—I never will apologize for the blood and treasure our country has sacrificed in offering others the hope of freedom.
—I never will send young Americans to fight in difficult and dangerous places without telling them who our enemy is and without providing them what they need for victory.
—I never will call an act of terrorism "workplace violence."
—I never will abandon America's steadfast allies — or demand they surrender territory essential to their very survival.
—I will be unequivocal about ensuring that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons, and I assure you we will build and deploy ballistic missile defenses to defend our homeland and the American people.
—I never will announce an arbitrary deadline for withdrawing from battle and give advantage to our adversaries.
—I will rebuild our intelligence capabilities and won't tolerate leaks of classified information that puts brave Americans or those who work with us at greater risk.
—I won't beg the Russians — or anyone else — for more "space," saying I can be more "flexible" after an election.
—Though I am committed to reducing the size and cost of the federal government, I will insist that Congress provide funds necessary to deter aggression, keep America's military No. 1 in the world and keep faith with all who have served and who now look — often in vain — for a good job.
—Trust me; if you elect me as our next president, I never will allow our flag to be defiled with a campaign logo, nor will I ever attempt to balance our budget on the backs of those who defend our country.
Governor, the words above are some of what America's heroes serving far from home hope to hear you say. Please feel free to use any or all of them as your own. We'll be watching the debates from the shadows of the Hindu Kush.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "Heroes Proved." Join Oliver North in Israel by going to http://www.olivernorthisrael.com. To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.