The former director of the Defense Department and the CIA laid out a foreign policy case against Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention, but was interrupted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters chanting “no war.”
Those protesters were then drowned out by other delegates chanting “USA” to allow Panetta to continue his strikes on the Republican nominee.
“This is no time to gamble with our future. America faces flash points and threats from around the globe,” Panetta said, endorsing Hillary Clinton for the job as someone “determined to defeat those who threaten us today, ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab.”
He cited some recent attacks — “people traveling through airports in Brussels and Istanbul, families celebrating on the beachfront in France, men and women shopping in a market in Baghdad, and just this week, and 85-year-old priest whose throat was slit by terrorists who stormed his church during mass.”
“These murderers must be stopped.”
Panetta then panned Trump, who “says he gets his foreign policy experience from watching TV and running the Miss Universe pageant.”
“If only it were funny, but it is deadly serious. Donald Trump asks our troops to commit war crimes, endorses torture, spurns our allies from Europe to Asia, suggests that countries have nuclear weapons, and he praises dictators from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin,” he said. “…Donald Trump today, once again, took Russia’s side. He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics.”
“Think about that. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump who wants to be president of the United States is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election. As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it is inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible.”
Panetta added that “out of a firm concern for the future of my children and my grandchildren… Donald Trump cannot become our commander in chief.”
“In an unstable world, we cannot afford unstable leadership. We cannot afford someone who believes America should withdraw from the world, threatens our international treaties and violates our moral principles,” he said. “We cannot afford an erratic finger on our nuclear weapons.”
A California delegate told ThinkProgress that she thought Panetta was conveying a message of perpetual warfare, and conceded that other delegates weren’t happy with their protest.
“I don’t understand how being pro-peace is anti-Hillary,” Alesa Byers said. “They’re just pissed off that we’re saying something.”