Romney campaigned in Iowa Thursday.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (CNN) - At an early morning "Ask Mitt Anything" event Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined Sen. Hillary Clinton in criticizing Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama for saying he would meet with controversial world leaders during his first year as president.
"It's absolutely extraordinary that someone can be so out of touch with our world," the former Massachusetts governor said. "Meeting with [authoritarian tyrants] is not what a president does."
These comments centered around what Sen. Obama, D-Illinois, said Monday night during the CNN/YouTube debate. He was asked whether he would be willing to meet with world leaders of Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea.
"It is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them," Obama said at the podium. "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous."
Not so, said Romney.
"A president meets with important leaders where there are mutual interests or where there's been progress or hope to be key progress," Romney said. "Discussions with people of that nature are done through other parties and
things of that nature, but you do not bestow the dignity of the presidency on people like [them]."
Obama's democratic opponent Hillary Clinton has also engaged in a war of words with the junior senator, saying she would use high-level envoys in situations like this.
"We're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro [of Cuba]and Hugo Chavez [of Venezuela] and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be," Clinton said during the debate. "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes."
When asked if this means his view aligns with Clinton's, Romney said, "If two Democrats are violently disagreeing with each other, I am probably going to be on the side of one or the other, but she happens to be right in that regard."
But speaking in his stump speech earlier, Romney showed no restraint against her. He said the New York senator would raise corporate taxes, which, he says, would be a bad idea because "the corporations will then go overseas." He also called her healthcare plan "Hillary-care," a phrase he's used at campaign stops before, saying "if you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free!"
He never so much as mentioned any of his fellow Republican candidates seeking the nomination for president.
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch