Seeking to score big donor dollars, US president Barack Obama and presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney traded barbs on Wednesday over Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
Romney warned that Obama’s policies and spending will “take America on the path to Europe.”
“We have two courses we could follow," Romney said. "One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs.”
“They of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best. Were we to follow that kind of a course, there would be no one who could stand to protect us," he said.
Romney last year accused Obama of taking his political inspiration “from the socialist democrats in Europe.”
Obama offered the same criticism about Romney’s proposals, saying the Republican’s emphasis on austerity would result in Europe-like "economic stagnation."
“The situation in Europe is slowing things down,” Obama said, adding Romney's austerity plan that would “drastically shrink government,” hurting job growth and middle-income Americans.
“That is fundamentally different from our experience in growing this economy and creating jobs,” Obama said.
Analysts say making such a political attack carries geopolitical risk for Obama. It may be viewed as criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s main advocate for austerity.
Merkel is also the person Obama needs most as an ally to stem any contagion from the debt crisis.
Obama and former President Bill Clinton made numerous references to Europe during joint appearances at three fundraisers in New York on June 4 as they addressed the No. 1 issue in the presidential campaign: the U.S. economy.
While Obama tried not to draw a direct line between Europe’s approach and Romney, Clinton was not.
Republicans are adopting “the European economy policy,” Clinton said.
“Who would have ever thought that the Republicans would embrace the austerity and jobless policies of what they used to derisively call ‘old Europe,’” Clinton said on Wednesday.
“I never thought I’d live to breathe and see, here they are saying, let’s do the euro zone’s economic policy," he went on, "they got 11 percent unemployment; we can get up there if we work at it.”