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. Kurt

    The idea that "hard power" is the only effective strategy in foreign policy is incredibly ignorant, of both policy and history. Only "tyrants" rely soley on intimidation and coersion by force. The damage of the Bush doctrine has weakened us for nearly a decade and repairing America's image overseas is more important than Romney is willing to admit. Apparently, he is more interested in a 2012 presidential run than speaking seriously about an crucial issue.

    June 1, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. philo

    Romney, please for the sake of this country just keep your mouth shut and fade away back into the private sector. Us young republicans will no longer stand by and let you and the other arachic leaders of a past era destroy our party and our country in the process. Strong national defense begins with strong dialouge, and if all those measures fail you then move to the military option. Therefore, Obama's foreign policy is completely in line with our republican belief in strong national defense. Younger educated republicans understand that security reguires a true multi-facated approach. So, Mr. Romney, do not attack Obama on this issue for your own political gains, and do not do it in the name of the republican party. We are moving past you. If we work with Obama and solve to solve our nations problems, then our party will emerge stronger for it. But, most importantly, so will our country. We must never put politics above solutions.

    June 1, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Tracy

    Okay you disagree but when will you put forth an effort to contribute to resolving this countries many problems. Even if you don't reside at 1600 Penn. Ave, I'm sure you can present a better face by submitting your suggestions on how things can improve. Americans are tired of policitians who sit on the sideline giving sound bites just to be seen and heard but not getting their hands dirty ti fix things (regardless of who is in control). I bet you that a number of us would think more of you if instead of bashing the other side, you pulled up your shirt sleeves and knocked on the door at 1600 Penn. Ave and said " Hey, I know we don't agree but I'm here to help out – put me to work". That would go a long way in your favor. Try it.

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Corey

    "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 US spends more on its military than all other nations combined. Over 20% of our budget goes to defense. When people talk about "bloated" government they need look no further than the military.

    Our forefathers specifically did NOT institute a standing army, because of the overwhelming historical evidence of its strong capacity at destroying nation it was designed to protect. NOTHING bankrupts a country faster than unmitigated military spending. NOTHING.

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Ez

    We the people are proud of our president and we are tired of the fear politics so Mitt get lost.

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Byron

    who are we fighting and what for? Answer here:__________________________________

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. NickS

    Mitt the military would not have been short changed had we not put no bid contracts in to effect with the Bush administration. Those are unpatriotic and wasteful.

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Kevin Denver Colorado

    "Arrogant, delusional tyrants.....

    Sounds like Bush to me.

    June 1, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Sean

    What Romney doesn't seem to understand is that thanks to the Bush administration, we're in a position where apologies are most certainly in order. We've misled the world into a poorly administered war, mismanaged the economy to the point of near global collapse, dragged political discourse further into the gutter than it's ever been, and all with an astounding aire of superiority. Amazing.

    June 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Richie

    My mother taught me that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. We need constructive words, not words designed to shoot this country down.

    June 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. here we go

    It seems that the ones on the outside, know more than the President. Must be nice to be so smart. What happened with his intellect when he was running for the republican nominee. Now he knows all and sees all. Must be nice.

    June 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Glarn Skleeblemann

    What now? HellMitt's trying to be a handsome version of Rush Limpbag? Where were all these critical voices of reason when Bush was driving this country over a cliff for 8 years? President Obama was elected to do a job of which 75% is cleaning up the countless messes left behind by his AIG (arrogant, incompetent & greedy) predecessors . Now back off and let him do it! That doesnt mean he should get a free pass to do anything he wants to do, but so far he's doing a commendable job. A grateful nation salutes you, Mr. President.

    June 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Frederick

    Mitt needs to sit down and shut-up, because what he is saying is the same old stuuf that has been heard over andover and over. We the people want to hear some encouraging and motovating words from the republcans. Mitt and other are the one that are putting the American people at risk from terorist by the constant remark. Talk about the budget, or where the party is going beside D__O__W__N

    June 1, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Sam Ellison

    Romney would have made a great candidate in the 60's: Keep people in fear of "the bomb" and they will flock to he who puffs out his chest furthest. There's a clear reason why he was the only person who contributed to his primary campaign – that worn, agressive rhetoric doesn't work with a new generation of voters.

    June 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Jane in WI

    Yeah Mitt, let's start a war with Korea. That's the answer.

    June 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Typical Republican

    Yea Romney, you tell them! Yer my man! Down with the black man. Kick em out of our churches like the good ole days of Mormonism. And then cry when they let them back in!

    Romney, please lead us back into the dark ages, I hate this bright sunshiny crap. The day's of old when the earth was flat, the sun revolved around us and america wasn't even discovered are where we need to go! You're just the man to take us there. Let's GO!

    June 1, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Tracy M.

    The defense budget hasn't been "short-changed," it's been purged of useless, wasteful spending. Maybe now under Obama's watch, the term "homeless veterans" will be obsolete, along with the term, "no-bid contracts" and "Blackwater" or "Xe" or whatever the heck they call themselves now. I've been poor all my life, and I can balance a freakin' budget. You don't stop buying shoes; you stop buying televisions. The DOD just cut out televisions.

    June 1, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Patriot

    An interesting point of view, considering that not one of his 5 sons have served or will ever serve. Not surprising coming from a chickenhawk, though.

    June 1, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. RAG

    "Arrogant, delusional tyrants can't be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows" said Romney. Exactly. That's why we elected Barack, to shut people like you up.

    June 1, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. T

    Old news CNN are there any current news?

    June 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Dave C - NJ

    Actually the missle defense system is well funded. The only cuts are admin and systems that don't work, such as the Reagan Era Star Wars stuff, like laser defense.

    As usual, GOP goons complaining about things that don't really happen.

    June 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Chad

    It's amazing that this guy gets any cred, he lost to McCain, and he thinks people should treat him like EF Hutton.

    June 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. richard

    So Mitt, when are you going to step up to the plate and become a somebody. Sitting on the sidelines and getting paid by Conservative wish tanks to make speeches doesn't do much other than highpoint your party's shrill impotence.

    June 1, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. JB

    Give it a rest, Mitt.

    June 1, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. John M in NoHo CA

    To mend the past in order to forge the future, an apologetic tone shows strength of character. I don't blame Obama for doing it. I blame Bush for requiring it. It takes greater strength to admit a wrong than rationalizing one as right.

    June 1, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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