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."
Romney. Get over it. Youre not liked enough to make a difference.
Youre not popular enough. Your bashing will not do anyone any good. Go support our president...your president.
President Obama is talking straight. You are in denial.
Go sit down Romney you are not even relevant. Lets see what put us in harms way..
1) We went after the wrong people after 9/11
2) Sadam albeit a tyrant in his day had his people under control. We go in in the name of liberation..and all Hell breaks loose and over 4,000 of our young men and women have died for what?
3) We are the only nation in the world that has dropped a Nuclear Bomb on Human beings (How Tyrannical is that for you?)
Once again Mitt reveals that he is a twit. Would you please just shut up? The MAJORITY of America doe not care what you, Rush, Newt, Dick, Bill, Sean or any other right-wing, lunatic fringe idiot has to say.
Wouldn't it be great if just for once a conservative could come up with a solution for anything that didn't involve bombing brown people into submission.
Romney is right. The Islamofascists and communist tyrants of the world will take Obama's groveling as nothing but a sign of weakness.
The liberals of our nation need to get over the idea that being disarming and self-effacing is going to score us any points with our enemies. If anything, it shows our enemies that we're not willing to stand up for ourselves and are ripe for attack.
This isn't political grandstanding, people. This is simple reality. As President Reagan so eloquently observed, no wars were ever started because the United States was 'too strong.'
Nobody cares what mittens thinks
I don't like Romney, he really is alot like Obama in many ways. But woo hoo on this critique of Obama. I'm tired of him apologizing. He's not my idea of a leader. America has NOTHING to apologize for, pass time for him to stand up for this country.
Romney is obviously seeking political gain rather than a better country.
Obama is trying to rebuid American reputation and leadership This is a global environment, being bully won't get us anywhere. Last 8 years is a nightmere for American foreign relationship.
Even as a democrat, I had respected Romney as someone who was at least thoughtful about being a public servant. Therefore, I expected better of him. What happened to him? He is wasting his time on meaningless, divisive, negativity, when he should be raising the bar.
He is right if you agree that America was safe with the "BUSH' policies.Not only did BUSH put America in the poor house with the same policies ROMNEY has, but we are no safer and NOTHING was accomplished.
He is just another blow hard not understanding the real world or common person. The rebukes destroyed our world standing with arrogance and that is exactly what this world does not need!
This man will say ANYTHING to get in the spot light! He will change his mind. Hes for it. Hes against it.
He is man that made millions of dollars on people loosing there jobs and homes.
He is memmber of a cult. He thinks he will be God of his own world. He belives that if he gives away the special hand shake (called tokens) he recieved in his Temple that he will have his neck cut from ear to ear and his bowels ripped out.
This man is CRAZY! Wonder if he has sold all of his homes yet...he dosn't want to come off like John Mccain did owning too many homes!
Mitt "Magic Underwear" Romney is delusional on two counts.
1) He really thinks he has a shot at the Republican Nomination in 2012.
2) He thinks there WILL be a RNC in 2012.
He needs to strap his dog on top of his car again and head for the hills – what a snake oil salesman...
More Republican Warmongering, keep the Hate going boys.
You all suck.
I am sorry but I have to say something here what a DOUCHEBAGS! Listen to me YOU WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT.We are in a recession brings ideas not knee-jerk stupid critism to the president ,he trying to remake our image abroad believe or not we need a good relantionship with the muslim.You really to defend liberty send some of your son to the military untill then be quiet. My son will be years old soon and I know he will serve one day or work in the US in non profit to help. Do something pogressive ,help stop the political verbial for once.Sheesh....
"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." (M. Romney)
So a military response is the best and only way to deal with dictators? What would Reagan say to that idea? He helped bring down the Berlin wall without a single bullet.
Just more rhetoric pandering to the conservative base...I wish Romney would be true to his moderate roots and show us what he really stands for and what good ideas he brings to the table.
Romney and the rest of the republicans should know a little something about arrogance. Maybe if our favorite cowboy president hadn't been so arrogant in the first place, apology would not be necessary...
The difference between Europe and the US, (particularly the Bush Administration & Republican brand of Foreign Policy) is that Europe saw the consequences of war - as, it devastated the entire continent on two separate occasions.
Such carnage in Europe has brought to light the need for diplomacy. Let us hope that we (America) do not come to learn the virtues of diplomacy in a similar, European manner.
Please. Romney pushes the same ole right wing talking points (lies).
President Obama actually INCREASED military spending by nearly $40 billion. He never apologized but worked to build a mutually respectful foundation towards diplomacy again.
I am so grateful and proud as an American that Obama is our president, not this political tool–Romney.
again no sloutions!!!! just fear mongering that the grand ole regional party likes to do. that missle defense system is useless and it is costing the american taxpayer millions of dollars and at the same time lining republicans pocketbooks!! that is the only reason mitt is concerned!
The only people who need to be apologizing are the folks who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004.
Here's a guy completely rebuffed by a natonal party that almost forbids he represent them - the head of that party has said that Republican voters are not going to support a Mormon yet this guy decides to take another tack: he's going to try to go with the "attack Obama" and try the lie and fear tactics that simply do.not.work with thinking, voting Americans. We just don't buy it and we couldn't care less how he worships. Even though he believes that he is following the (failed and continuing to fail) GOP script, the fact is, he's going to waste a lot of money. His party will not get in behind him. The Bible belt won't support him and that is their bread and butter. Perhaps Mitt is taking himself out of mothballs because of Jon Huntsman's recent appointment. IT WAS AN APPOINTMENT, MITT. Not an election and this ain't Utah. America simply refuses to go backward. We're just not. Never again.
Maybe if the GOP didn't screw things up so badly there would not be so much to apologize for. Like torture, rape, kidnapping, invading Iraq, Katrina, wiretapping US Citizens without warrents, booting gays out of the military and on ad infinitum.
The only thing the US has to apologize for is putting the GOP in power.
I'm wondering if Romney realizes Korea built it's nuclear capability during the Bush administration. Hey I think Iran did the same thing. Romney's statement, "Action — strong, bold action coming from a position of strength and determination — is the only effective deterrent." How did that work for Bush?