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."
Romey is an idiot!
Spoken like a sore loser who is crying "Rush, Save us!"
So many of you voted for CHANGE. The primary change was skin color. The underlying and caustic changes are just beginning to rear their ugly heads.
Barack Obama will disarm the United States. He will protray us, worldwide, as an apologetic impotent nation. All the while, using tax payers money to infilitrate every industry in the country. Eventually, he will bail out a state, thereby accomplishing federal ownership of a state. Is everyone blind to this? Does anyone know where this will put us?
Its hardly news that Romney is giving a conservative speech to the Heritage Foundation. Why does CNN cover what Romney says anymore? Didn't the nation reject him as a leader during the last presidential campaign?
Obama and the democrats won the election with a promise of new ideas and a new direction. That's what Obama is doing and he has as mandate from the people to try new ideas. Whenever he does something the Republicans don't like, they say he is putting the country in harms way.
Romney may not like it but his ideas and his party were rejected. Obama need not apologize to anyone for moving to repair the damage caused by the previous administration.
Really!!?? I guess we should charge into N. Korea like we did Iraq, where we had no business going in the first place, & destroy a country like our former bozo President Bush did!! Please by all means, let us keep up that cowboy front & have more & more of the world hating us even more than they already do now...the only threats to the American people are Gingrich, Linbaugh, Cheney & now Romney...wake up guys...a new way of handling foreign & domestic affairs has arrived & I for one am glad of it...& by voting in President Obama by the landslide he was voted in by...I would hazard to say so is most of America...Thank God for President Obama * V.P. Biden & thank God we are finally rid of "W" & Cheney...
Romney, a real foreign policy expert. What a joke. Get over it, MItt. 2012? Dream on.
Any media wannabe's follow-up with Romney on why he found Obama's Supreme Court pick "troubling"? Was it because Sotomayor isn't rich, white, and Mormon?
I love how Romney touts his business credentials... but Bain hasn't been doing too well lately.
When Romney was running for President, his five sons helped his election campaign instead of serving in the military. Such heroes, all of them.
This week Romney says he's a Republican. Let's see how often his stances change in the next election cycle.
The irony of Romney's statements is they resonate with what "arrogant delusional tryants" have for millenia been using to dupe the masses.
“Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the
leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a
simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a
fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are
being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and
for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every
country.” Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reich Marshall
We had a Republican run government that did nothing of value for the American people for 2 presidential terms. N.Korea was just one more serious issue they ignored, along with health care, education, the economy and the nation's infrastructure – while they wasted money on Iraq and allowed Wall Street to run the nation into the ground unregulated.
This problem should have been dealt with during the Bush administration. What we don't need now is a bunch of political obsoletes like Gingrich, Cheney and Romney criticizing the President every time he tries to take on a problem their party ignored in favor of bankrolling their cronies.
This is the guy who got even less votes than John McCain. He needs to be quiet.
This just goes to prove YET AGAIN what a self-serving jerk Mitt Romney is. He does not care a bit about this country or what is best for the people, only for his own political advancement.
Well maybe when he is President he can go back to the way the "Good ol' boys" which is not listen and have people hate us even more. Go ROMNEY!!! NOT!
If we cared what these people thought, they would be in the white house and not conducting the side show. I am tired of these people continuing to divide the country instead of uniting them. If they had any clue on what to do (other than pander to the religious base), they could have done it over the past 8 years. Now, we have to listen to a bunch of back seat drivers who were not brave enough to stand up to the policies that got us here. Now go play somewhere else and shame on CNN for making opinions news.
Getting old, just like the GOP...old and tiresome
This guy is a joke; the plan for our armed forces is similar to that of GM. Leaner, meaner, and more precise! Look at what happened to our soldiers when they got sent to Iraq with unprepared Humvees and no body armor as Romney would have it. Time to make our armed forces the most technologically advanced against the terrorists, and I trust the brain of Obama over Romney any day!!!
Romney is an idiot
Enough with the rheotric already! When are people (on both sides of the aisle) going to stop with business as usual and listen to the message that the people sent in the November elections? That message is that this is a goverment "Of the people, by the people and for the people" – which means we elected you to work for us not for you.
Oh listen to the Mitt the Twit running his mouth on foreign policy, something he totally has no experience in, and it shows. Sounds like he is parroting Rush and his buddies. THAT wont get him elected.
Hey Mutt, I guess you'd rather have us go and keep the killing and torture up, huh?
Romney is taking a page from the Rove/Cheney playbook by playing politics with the war on terrorism, using fear tactics for partisan politican gain. Romney has disgraced himself and the GOP and should withdraw from the 2012 Presidential campaign.
Can't the Republicans find a new handbook to play from....trying to scare people into their vote has stopped working. It also doesn't play well in the world, he may as well be representing himself and his party with his quote "arrogant, delusional tyrants"
Be scared, be very scared. These pathetic republicans are all the same. I hope to god the American public is smart enough to not fall for it again.
hmm, I wonder if he had on his magical underwear when he made that statement?
He and the GOP are a joke. I suppose he disagrees with Def Sec Gates also. What happened to listen to those who know what they are talking about? Oh yeah the GOP does not do that as it would make sense.
p.s. keep up the good work on the Latina judge and watch the sun set on your party during the years from 2010 til it rises no more.
Yes, the man who could not get enough Republicans in the primary to vote now thinks that anyone cares......
Romney apparently thinks he has a second shot at the Republican nomination. No way!