At Fort Bliss, Obama challenges Romney speech

(CBS News) FORT BLISS, Tex. - The echoes of Mitt Romney's Republican National Convention speech appeared to be ringing in the ears of President Obama as he flew to Texas Friday.

The Obama campaign derided Romney's speech today as a series of "snarky lines about the president and gauzy reminiscences of the past." The president's visit to the military base was technically not a campaign stop, but it was still designed to turn the page from Tampa and showcase his role as commander in chief.

He came on stage to applause, a visit to mark the two-year anniversary of one of his foreign policy milestones, the end of the combat mission in Iraq.

Mr. Obama did not mention Gov. Romney by name, but he did challenge Romney's harsh assessment last night of his leadership abroad.

"If you hear anyone trying to say that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, don't you believe it, cause here's the truth: Our alliances have never been stronger," the president said.

Obama campaign officials rebuked Romney for failing to even mention the troops and veterans in his speech last night -- or the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president laid out his criteria for future engagements.

"In a world of serious threats, I will never hesitate to use force to defend the United States of America or our interests," he said. "At the same time, I will only send you in to harm's way when it is absolutely necessary -- and when we do, we will give you the equipment and the clear mission and the smart strategy and the support back home that you need to get job done. We owe you that."

The president will spend this Labor Day weekend stumping in several battleground states, but the White House announced Friday that he is cutting short a visit to Ohio Monday so he can survey the devastation in the Gulf -- as Romney did today.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.