June 1st, 2009
02:21 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney slams Obama for 'tour of apology'

In a speech Monday, former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticized President Obama's approach to foreign policy and defense spending.
In a speech Monday, former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticized President Obama's approach to foreign policy and defense spending.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama's foreign and national security policy Monday, criticizing the commander-in-chief's message abroad as a "tour of apology" and calling plans to trim the missile defense budget a "grave miscalculation" that puts the nation at risk in the face of urgent threats like North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"Arrogant, delusional tyrants can't be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows," Romney told a conservative crowd at a speech sponsored by the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "Action - strong, bold action coming from a position of strength and determination - is the only effective deterrent."

Nearly two weeks after former Vice President Dick Cheney took on President Obama's national security policy, Romney delivered the latest in a string of tough critiques of the new administration - including a bruising take on Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor - that have made the former Massachusetts governor a conservative favorite in the first months of the new administration, even as he carefully avoids the kind of incendiary attacks and media overexposure that could threaten mainstream appeal he'd need to reach the Oval Office.

Romney argued Monday that the defense budget had been short-changed, and the nation's military readiness has been endangered, because of the president's call to increase spending on domestic programs.

"None of that [new spending] was spent on increasing the defense modernization budget - a failure that history will never understand or excuse, in my view," he said.

The nation's military readiness, Romney argued, was also threatened by the overall economic decisions the president has made.

"At the most fundamental level, our military might depends on the long term strength of our economy," he said. "The president's planned budgets and multitrillion-dollar deficits, financed by a level of borrowing never before attempted by any nation in history, puts our whole economy in jeopardy."

Romney predicted the president's actions "may take us past that proverbial tipping point" and spark a crippling crisis of confidence in the dollar.

Romney, who ran the investment firm Bain Capital before entering politics, often touted his business and managerial experience as a presidential candidate. But he had limited experience with national security matters - a shortcoming that his rival John McCain eagerly highlighted during the primaries.

Since the 2008 election, Romney has re-emerged as a vocal critic of Obama's security agenda, and has made a series of public statements aimed at raising his profile in the foreign policy arena.

In April, he blasted Obama in The Weekly Standard for not objecting when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega criticized the United States at the summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

"President Obama shrank from defending liberty here in the Americas," Romney wrote.

Last month, when Obama and Cheney presented dueling speeches on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, Romney defended the former vice president and said that the president's speech "was more tortured than the enhanced interrogation techniques he decries."

Romney has said he will not hesitate to praise the president when he agrees with him. At an April fundraiser for Senate Republicans, for instance, Romney applauded Obama for taking the right steps in Iraq and Afghanistan. But despite those kind words, Romney has so far been more critical than supportive of the administration's foreign policy agenda.

A disciplined politician, Romney is quick to say he's not a presidential candidate. But his schedule seems to be a bit off-message.

Earlier this year, he got a hero's welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where more than a few attendees insisted his economic credentials might have nabbed him the Oval Office if the economic crisis had hit before the Republican Party had decided on its standard-bearer.

On Friday, he was the keynote speaker at the Virginia GOP's Commonwealth Gala dinner in Richmond. On Sunday, he weighed in on his party's future on Fox News.

Romney is making appearances as a key member of the National Council for a New America - the move, led by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, to re-brand the GOP. Meanwhile, Free and Strong America PAC - Romney's political action committee dedicated to supporting conservative candidates - is helping him build the national network of party loyalists he'd need to clinch the nomination.

On Sunday, the 2008 presidential contender denied reports he was planning to move his permanent residence to New Hampshire in advance of a repeat run for the nation's top spot. But he was more equivocal on the overall question of a 2012 bid.

"I'm not going to close that door," he told Fox - although he added, "I'm not going to walk through it either."

"[T]he action that I'm going through right now is trying to help people who I think would make a difference for the country and, frankly, also help some people who helped me," he said.

Romney's reinvention hasn't come without a few false steps. Supporters of Newt Gingrich, another Republican leader whose name is regularly mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, complained last month that the former House Speaker was initially prevented from joining the NCNA by the former governor's team - a charge that Romney's aides, and Cantor representatives, strongly denied.

And after he weighed in on behalf of New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie, supported by the Free and Strong America PAC, Christie's primary rival Steve Lonegan fired back with a salvo aimed squarely at Romney's chief vulnerability last cycle: the sense by some movement conservatives that the Massachusetts resident was more moderate than he would like Republicans to believe.

"Mitt Romney was rejected by Republican Primary voters because he was a moderate trying to pass himself off as a conservative just in time to win an election," Lonegan said in a statement released by his campaign.

It's the kind of reaction that helped cost him the nomination last cycle - and the sort of response his team would like to banish long before the next race takes shape. But Romney's not counting on immediate rewards on his long journey back to the campaign trail.

"We have plenty of time to decide what the future holds," he told Fox on Sunday. "It's very early, five months into the president's term. We'll see how he does, and we as a party are going to come back stronger, more vibrant, and more committed to following the principles that have always been at the base of our party."

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. jon c. sprowl

    ROMNEY is RIGHT.obama and the rest of the socialist marxis democrats are weak . they no nothing about history. why did you morons vote for a man with no past ?

    June 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. james

    you Would think this guy would wait to start campaign until a couple years before the next presidential election. To do so now, just make him look very unpatriotic.His self-interests are well in front of the interests of this country.

    June 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Tk1

    Romney is right, we owe no one anything, next you know he will be apologising for our exisitence......................

    June 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. Chipster

    Poor Mitt, doesn't he know that the next election is in 2012?

    As he said, "Arrogant, delusional tyrants can't be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows..." True, but we did finally get Dick Cheney out of the White House and that's a good start. Now, we must rebuild the broken relationships with our allies and prove that we have relocated the U.S. Constitution and our moral compass.

    We must recover financially from the borrow and spend policies that have devastated our Treasury. It will take time but we will do it. Yes! We can! and Yes! We will!

    June 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. jasonDT

    Hey "Governor" Romney - why don't you go on a tour of apology to the people of Massachusetts, because after they elected you Governor, you disappeared within two years. You were an absentee governor. Also, then you can go to the workers of Massachusetts and apologize to all those who you laid off due to your corporate take-overs when you ran Bain & Company as you private toy! What a hypocrite!!

    June 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Bonita

    Whatever! Tough talk by that previous idiot got us setup as a target too. Go home, Mitt! No one cares what you have to say. Get someone else that we want to hear speak for the GOP!

    June 1, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Jan

    Mitt Romney is a joke. What does he know about foreign policy? He couldn't even win his party's nomination so why should anyone listen to what he has to say. Along with the rest of the losers in the Repub party, he just wants to keep his name in the news and it galls me to no end that CNN is giving these creeps the time of day. What he should be doing is trying to convince people in his own party that he knows what he is talking about and leave the rest of us alone. We are tired of hearing from these Repubs creeps.

    June 1, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Mr. Pragmatic

    One simple question: Why does anyone care what Mitt Romney has to say?

    June 1, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. sherlock13

    We've got enough nukes already to bomb North Korea many, many times over. The only thing these nukes are good for is a deterrent, and they're obviously not a deterrent against other countries building nukes. By the way, in case Mr. Romney hasn't noticed, we need domestic spending right now. I guess it's hard to realize that when you're rich.

    June 1, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Woeful

    I guess the GOP is hell bent on putting that last nail in their coffin. How much safer did the Bush Administration make America..Come on now really?

    June 1, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Michel

    Bring it on cream puff Romney.Steve Christie is a joke.

    June 1, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Chris from NY

    I was just telling a friend this morning how I can't stand this guy. He potrays himself as a self righeous person I can't stand to look at him. You can't sell short your fellow human being because you are running for office. There's nothing wrong with acknoledging you made a mistake what is ironic ithough and equally dangerous is one who doesn't think they have ever made any mistakes in their lives. That to me is the height opf arrogance.

    June 1, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Canadian soccer mom

    President Obama did not do an apology tour, but he had to make the tour that he did to display a collaborative intelligent approach toward foreign policy that had been missing in the last 8 years. That damage needed to be reversed.

    June 1, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. a

    Oh please, Go sit down...

    June 1, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Michael

    In the usual manner, Romney opens his mouth about topics he has little knowlege. Or rather, There goes Romney again toot'in his own horn. Next thing we'll hear is that he has been 'brain-washed' about whatever he misspoke about. ala his dad, The former Govenor Romney of Michigan.

    June 1, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. D. Williams

    Question for Mr. Roomey: Would you rather President Obama begin torture techniques?

    June 1, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. David Jones

    Mitt Romney? The guy who deferred out of Viet Nam and took steps to having his five boys also miss out on military service? Someone who has no experience in defense–and, by the way, Obama does not lower spending but uses it for more boots on the ground than building Cold War weapons. Further, the decision to reduce missle defense spending came from the Chiefs of Staff, not Obama.

    In sum, this cheap, greasy looking jerk, should take his tail and go back to one of his many houses.

    June 1, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. scott

    Got to love the comments from the GOP wanna be candidates ALREADY tossing their hats into the presidental ring. Well GOP if your party wasn't so interested in dista.ncing yourself from the rest of the world, this preisident wouldn't have to make these comments. And te fact that Rommney is saying this is a joke becuase he would do the same if he were president. Shut up GOP

    June 1, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. BK from NY

    Obama seems comfortable with criticising America in front of the world, but at some point it will be seen as weakness, and we will pay the price.

    June 1, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. are you kidding

    one thing History will never understand or excuse is a party that is supposedly strong on deffense spent billions on a missile defense system that protects us from no one when thousands of our troops were killed because they didn't have the right body armor, the hummers weren't reinforce or they did get those IED resisstant Mrap vehicle or whatever they are called into the theater. Defense spending has gone up overall and the shift is on real things they need to protect our soldiers in battle now.

    June 1, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Tim, Seattle

    Just further evidence of the weakness and inevitable collapse of the GOP. The word 'no', whining and slander are all they have left.

    How sad Romney's 'PAC' is trying to re-establish the base....what a joke...and a losing strategy....the GOP 'base' is now about 20% of the country and shrinking fast.

    Maybe Mitt wants to represent the Mississsippi/Alabama/South Carolina/Tenesseee/Kentucky (deep south) party. But he will be in trouble because he is a 'yankee'. lol

    GOP– Moderate or die...

    June 1, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Repugs are Thugs

    Mitt is delusional, as most of the Republican Party. What's new.

    June 1, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Tim, Seattle

    Er....Mitt.....werent you part of that GOP 'no-one is listening' tour?

    June 1, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Hope

    What happened to a prayer Mr Preacherman?

    June 1, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Joey I

    Romney is such a loser. Beccuase of people like him, this country has been going down the toilet

    June 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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