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."
Hey Mitt... you're a TOOL. After the last eight years of Fire, Ready, Aim, i think an "apology tour" is the LEAST we could do. We're supposed to be the beacon for the rest of the world... a shining example of what a nation SHOULD be! after these past 8 years we should not only apologize, but reverse the course we're on and get back to those "fundamental values" that you GOP'ers preach but never practice!
as for your claims that we're less safe because we've cut missile defense spending i put this to you... we have enough weapons in our arsenal to destroy this planet 1,000 times over! i think our resources would be better spent where they are.... right here trying to get this country on track! this is an old song you're singing Mitt (and Rush and Gingrich and Hannity and Cheney) and people have changed the station!!!
Oh ah Romney !
Please GO away!
Who really cares what Romney says anyway, hell he could not even win the Primaries. The republinuts don't even listen to him, so why should anyone else?
Romney knows he's not a Republican favorite, so now he's attempting the old Bush theory of FEAR. This guy too is a joke.
I think at this stage of the game, the Repuplican party members should stay out of the promise and political attributes of the newly democratically chosen President of the United States. This country has an awful record of criticizing each others as well as suing people for small things. If Barack Obama wants to mend peace with nations that was not tolerated before let him do so. He is the most likable President that the US has ever had. US as a whole may not be liked by outsiders, but it is truly amazing what he is doing to heal this country's problems. He is seeing a light in the tunnel and will dig us out of it in time. So, Mr. Romney I certainly see that you are fundamentally wrong in your thinking.
hell if anyone say something negative about Obama, CNN will publish it. Romey is a nobody trying to get some publicity and CNN is more than willing to help.
Romney is a buffoon.
What exactly are his foreign policy credentials? None. He's another legacy candidate – just because his father did well, he's trying to bogart off that.
Sorry Mittens, you've got no credibility in foreign policy, and your statements condemning Pres. Obama won't be a vote getter for you in our household.
Well Romney.. you're speaking to a group of people that won't vote for you because you're a Mormon. Too bad.
But you're just delusional to say that we're not spending enough on the defense budget.
How much more will make us safe? As Haliburton and the like rob us blind in the middle east?
Additionally the 'wars' are off the books?
That's a true fiscal conservative if I ever saw one.
Good luck on your Presidential bid.
rommy knows how to deal with tyrants; just go to france and convert catholics to mormon while real men serve their country in Vietnam. you remember that tough duty don't you mitty? This no serving coward passed his yellow streak to 5 little mitty mos and they know how to stay home too, just like dada. What do "born with silver spoon in mouth" do for their country; rommy says they are working hard to get dada elected prez. What a pathetic little group the rommies make.
Has activity supported the weakening of the US for the past 8 years by supporting the Republican agenda that has crippled the nation. The danger Obama must face was created by the Republican Party and Mitt Romney.
This is an old argument. You are so behing. Get a life.
Time to get the paid Obamabots to post that Romney is a hater, Rethuglican, bigot, he has prettier hair.....
Actually sheep, he forgot more than your fraud in chief knows.
Romney has actually run a few things and succeeded, all Obambi can do is run his mouth.
While North Korea is working on making and launching nukes as a way of testing the political neophyte Obambi, he is then cutting our defense mechanisms so he and his cabinet can BUY into everything and then become CZAR's in chief of EVERYTHING.
Romney is on record saying 6 months ago that GM should have been allowed to go into chapter 11, but 50 BILLION dollars later YOUR annointed and selected "genius" is finally coming to the same conclusion EXCEPT he wants to run it as well.
Wait. The Obama 2009 Apology Tour will be followed by the 2010 Obama Surrender Tour, with special appearances in N.Korea and Iran.
Who cares what Mitt Romney thinks? Why are you giving this guy coverage? He's not even an elected official!
I don't recall former Democrat presidential candidates getting news coverage regarding their opinions of Bush's actions in the first months of his presidency!
romney needs to shut up and sit back, and chill, he is not going anywhere, nobody is voting for him
look everyone.. romney is still campaigning for the presidential race.. maybe he doesnt know its over... someone should tell him the evangelicals didnt want him becuase he is not one of them,, and the rest of us dont want to hear from him either..ugh ..to the never ending presidential race
This is why Romney has been an unmitigated success his entire life, he has the guts to say what needs to be said. Obama SHOULD NOT be traveling the world apologizing for things that his predecessors did. Especially when he is on track to be the biggest spending president in the nation's history.
Keep it up Romney, only 4 years until you move into the White House!
Oh Romney, get a hold of yourself. You and the Republican Party, the party of NO. All you guys and gals do is slamming the President and the Democratic party for their ideas , and yet, none of you comes up with a different one, none of you. What's up with that ??!!
Let's give Scott Roeder the address of Mitt Romney!
Romney is an intellectual lightweight.
Romney has a good grasp of international politics, even though the area of finance is his forte. This freewheeling economy has reminded many of us just how nicely Romney would have fit our needs as a nation during these early months and years of a new administration.
Seriously, Mitt, Obama increased the military budget from the previous year. On top of that, have you seen our crumbling infrastructure? What do you want 50% of the nation to be on rolling blackouts before you invest in the homeland?
I think the president is doing the right thing for America. Mr. Romney, you cannot make peace around the world through fighting.
Nothing new to complain about, so he digs up something old, and something that isn't even true. If there was any apologizing on Obama's tour, it was to apologize for 8 years of Republican arrogance, war, and gluttony. Romney should should think of cleaning his house and his party's house first.
After 8 years of Bush, America cannot stand another empty suit in the office. We are very lucky to have a man ot keen intellect and cool temperament currently serving as our President.
Romney, take your Central Casting "presidential" looks and greasy hair and recede into anonymity with your billions.