June 1st, 2009
02:21 PM ET
9 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. leonard kishore

    CNN, your posting is this and all the other extremem repubs is your own fault. Please take responsiblity, I don't think all republicans feel this way.

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. rj

    Romney is a snake. He cares only about his political ambitions and will do or say anything to achieve them. People in Massachusetts hate him, because he campaigned for governor with grand promises. Then, as governor, he did nothing but feather his own nest in preparation for a presidential bid. He did nothing to improve the state.

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Brendose, Oceanside ca

    Terror, Fear, Chaos, Depression......

    The 4 words in all Republican speeches.

    Hope, Security, Reform, Sympathize

    The 4 words in all Democrat speeches.

    Which ones are truly going to help our country?

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Marion

    So Mitt Romney believes that when our foreign policy over the past eight years has alienated just about every nation on Earth to the point that we not only have few allies but are viewed by many as an international bully, when it's obvious that we have made huge mistakes, then we should never admit we're wrong and instead just go blindly charging ahead as if nothing was wrong? Did I get that right?

    Oh wait, neither Mitt Romney nor his audience believes the last eight years was a mistake, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    These people never cease to amaze me. They were crushed in last November's election, and their policies were repudiated by a majority of Americans, yet they refuse to admit the possibility that they made a mistake. In fact, I sometimes wonder if some of them even realize that there was an election and that they lost it.

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Estamm

    Why should anyone care what this flip-flopping neocon has-been thinks about *anything*?

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. gl, Pittsburgh

    National security policy is what the Republicans believe is their specaility and if the American People Believe that then John McCain would be our President. It didn't work then and will not work now. It is the Economy Stupid! If John McCain was our President, this country would be fighting all kinds of wars that why is not our President. We are all tried of fighting for other countries problems while forgetting about the ciiztens of this country.

    June 1, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Nico

    Romney slams Obama for 'GOP DAMAGE CONTROL TOUR'. Romney doesn't know better. Look at MI and tell me he's the man????

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Brian

    I believe exactly what he said. It appears somehow that Obama is trying to apologize to the rest of the world for the actions of this country. Obama continues to ignore all the good that this country does on a yearly basis and only tries to point out to others the mistakes that some have done. I would suggest instead of going on such as this, to point out how much funding this country does for the entire world and consider reducing that funding if others no longer wish to embrace our financial support. I not saying that everything we do is 100% perfect, but consider how much we do compared to others is all I ask.

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. dave

    Shut up Loser

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Seth

    Romney is drinking Limbaugh's Koolaid..

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Tracy in NC

    It must be nice to sit back and take shots at this administration, when your own party doesn't want your opinion. If I'm not mistaken McCain was the repub sacraficial lamb.

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. nicasia

    herman monster, i think it's time you realize that you are only preaching to your own base. nobody else is listening to you. go away.

    June 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Jay Baum

    President Obama is America's Neville Chamberlain. Here is a quote from Chamberlain's 1938 appeasement speech. " As long as war has not begun, there is always HOPE that it may be prevented, and you know that I am going to work for peace to the last moment. Good night." . President Obama now brings us the same new HOPE. Tell our enemies we are sorry, ignore their hatred and attacks on our citizens and the world will be a bright and wonderful place. Obama may forbid the use of the expression " War on Terror" but it does not make the danger to America any less real. Obama will keep smiling and bowing to our enemies until he learns it is safer to be respected than liked. The minor blip in history that followed Chamberlain's speech was World War 2

    June 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Chip Jones

    I hope the Republicans keep it up and hang tightly to their religious right wingers. Perhaps they will then support the coming legislation to tax these religious organizations since the Republicans, better than anyone else, know these religious organizations are in the business of politics. If you play, you must pay. Otherwise, get your narrow ideology off of our polling place doors. Tax the Church. They have more money than we do!

    June 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. al

    Does anyone really care what Romney thinks about anything? This guy needs a new message, not the same tired mantra from the right.

    June 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Manny

    Okay Romney, where did you come from. We spend more money (sometimes more on another country's defense than that country does) not defending the United States borders. And not to mention the overspending on purchased items from closed bids and other wasteful spending. We could use a trim off of that budget after all.

    WHY spend money on domestic programs? Because nobody else is not the private sector, not investors and not YOU Romney (who has a pretty good size nest egg). Someone has to to get the economy going and the government is the last resort. How about convincing some of you deep pocket conservatives to invest in the economy. What's that? Not a good investment with low returns? Like I said someone had to step up and it wasn't YOU GUYS – GOP!!!!

    June 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    Mr. Romney, you are certainly entitled to your opinions as I am to mine. I don't trust you in the least as I think you will do anything, say anything, be anything to everybody in order to scare up votes. You try to be Ronald Reagan, but you come across as a used car salesman that is selling one helluva GOP lemon. I remember the speeches you gave in Michigan only to turn around a few months later and stab them in the back. You being a Morman has nothing to do with the way I feel, but you being a Moron does.

    June 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. carlo

    Do these guys ever lighten up or take responsibility for their role in how things are looking right now? We have been abusing our power for quite some time now, so sure, we have been wrong. What's Romney talking about? I think his hair dye is getting to him.

    June 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Craig- Easton, PA

    Another irrelevancy heard from. Even the GOP rejected this one.

    June 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. donna

    Isn't Mitt supposed to be on his own tour with Cantor and Jeb?? oh that's right, Rush said it was dumb so they stopped...

    Someone get Mitt some more hair dye so he'll have something to do with his time...

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. phil

    Good for Obama, finally someone takes care of the people first,
    and its needed now. Bush never thought about amercans in this way, for Bush it was always keep the people scared and intimdated,Heck I still have dozens of rolls of duck tape and lots of plastic sheeting still.

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Julia from Fayetteville, NC

    He had re-enforced what I suspected. He wants his way or no way. He has been at the top long enough he should understand what communication is. Sometimes apology is what is needed and I am on Obama's side. Apparently they don't apologize where Romney comes from. Glad he didn't get farther than he did toward being President. Always thought he was too handsome and slick to work in today's world.

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. kevin

    If Obama is so ashamed of this country, someone of political stature needs to have the balls to tell Obama to stay there. This is what needs to be done in order to slam this guy back into reality.

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Patty in the CA mountains

    I strongly disagree with the "under fire" headline on your front page.....Obama's attempt to repair the damage done over the last 8 years by the previous office holder is being criticized by a minor figure in a down and out political party.

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. Linda

    Is it possible for us to get someone on the caliber of David Gergen or Ed Rollins to represent the GOP party and go head to head with President Obama? I refuse to accept that Mitt, Newt, Jindal, Rush, and McConnell etc are the best the party has to offer? The party will be laid to rest in 2010.

    June 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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