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."
I used to like Romney then i figured out he is like any other politician. He says the Defense budget isn't being prioritized. Thats funny considering the overall number jumped almost $20 billion. Why is it such a bad thing to spend more money here in the US on domestic issues. Isn't it money better spent if it goes to our own country instead of someone else's?
Just the latest in a string of sniper shots from the carcass of the GOP.
Hey Mitt – here's a suggestion... go to hell and shut up! Ah, never mind – the "fringe electorate" would miss you terribly and you're needed to help shore up the antics of Rush, Newt, Hannity, O'Reilly and others who keep that fringe electorate frothing at the mouth. You've mastered the art of GOP Gibberish ... I'll try and see you as amusing, as opposed to frightening!
So true. Romney knows what the tone should be from the top. Obama is, tragically, branding America as a self-despising institution, rather than one that is powerful and poised to succeed in the world.
Why do all these people who weren't able to get elected feel like America wants to hear their stupid comments on the guy who did get elected?
America does not want to hear your highly unpatriotic bull anymore. Shut your conservative traps!
Take it from a former Bostonian, Romney is useless and short on brains. Romney and all of his GOP cronies are a sad and pathetic lot. Obama is not six months into his term, yet they have been hurling every criticism, valid or not, every insult they can think of at Obama. Give the president a chance. But I guess this is too much to ask, isn't it? In the end, the GOP campaign slogan, "Country First" really should have read "Party First".
"Arrogant and delusional"??
Sounds like the Republican pot calling the kettle black!
Not sure why these GOP fools don't zip it! They have all the solutions to the mess they have already created. American people are smart enough and tired of your conservative illusions. Get a LIFE!
Dear Mr. Romney,
This may come as a surprise to you but I must inform you that neither you, nor any of your opinions are relevant. Aside from the fact that you came in a poor second in the Republican Presidential nomination, your feeble attempt to recast yourself as an ultra-right wing politician is weak at best. Now, considering the fact that most the right wing
Evangelical Christians in your own party would never vote for you simply on the grounds that you are Mormon, and that Sarah Palin could probably beat you in a primary with her eyes closed, I respectfully request that you go away and just be a happy rich guy.
How many more disgruntled republicans are going to sing this same off-key tune? I'm tired of them attempting to portray themselves as defenders of truth, justice and the American way! Who was in power when we were attacked on 9/11? Who made such a mess of the situation that we now have far more enemies now than we had at the time of the attack. NO, the republicans are not the party that has the answers on keeping us safe. The last 8 years have been a national nightmare; enough with crying about the policies of President Obama – this mess will take a long time to fix. The American people voted down the politics of fear last November; NOW, let's move forward!
Is there some reason that this paranoid is not taking his medications?
And what is Gov Romney's military expertise that he's falling back on? Oh, yeah, he ran the Olympics in Salt Lake. I wish someone would waterboard this guy to get him to admit the the LDS Church doctrinally believes in polygamy!
Romeny, you Dick Chaney and the rest, Keep going. Keep slamming the president. You are digging your Republican hole deeper and deeper. You may fix things in a way the the Republican party never recover.
OK, I hate calling names, but this joker lost the Republican nomination to John McCain, the worst possible candidate I've seen in FOREVER. How seriously are we supposed to take him?
BRAVO! Amen to that! I love Romney – the next president-in-line in 3.5 years! America needs Romney so badly to fix Obama's mess – I can hardly wait!
Oh Romney. With absolutely ZERO foreign policy experience, it's great that you say things like that. It's even greater that CNN posts it as top news irregardless.
First of all Mr. Romney, scare tactics are a real thing of the past and percieved by most Americans at this point as just plain posturing, or outright lying. The fact that North Korea may have a nuclear weapon does not justify an all out nuclear build up by the USA. I'm sure we have more than they do Mr. Romney. Many other much more reliable and believable sources have said that President Obama has not made us more unsafe than we already were before his election. The only apology I heard was the apology for the past administrations arrogance and lack of integrity to the rest of the world. This needed to be done to show that America was acting out of fear and lies. I'm sure that the christian that Romney professes he is would approve of all of the Bush / Cheney follies.
Mr. Romney might take a history lesson. As one of the leading figures of his political party is credited with saying, "Speakly softly and carry a big stick." (That would be Theodore Roosevelt who, if he were alive today, would probably be held in suspicion by Rush Limbaugh as not being a real Republican.) We have the big stick or at least what is left of it after it was used unwisely by the Bush administration. If our stick isn't quite as big, it is because of unnecessary military involvement as well as economic difficulties due in large part to "conservative" policies. That policy was don't tax but still spend. We were running a credit card economy. It was inevitable that the bills would come due, and they have. We will be fine with wise leadership at the top. Mr. Romney, apparently the nation felt that you would not offer that.
Get off the soapbox you plastic politician.
What happened to your listening tour? Didn't like what WE SAY?
Hate-monger – you get your wish. I hate republicans.
The Republicans continue to run in circles, trying to find a message that resonates with a dwindling base, trying our criticisms of the President to see which ones work: "the Supreme Court choice is a racist; oh, that didn't work, so let's withdraw that"; "Obama is weak on foreign policy, oh, the policy is working in Iraq and Afghanistan, let's withdraw that"; let's try saying his dialogue-based approach is "a tour of apology".....see if that sticks. Eventually there will be good healthy political critique and dialogue, but for now the GOP is too confused to contribute anything but brief media moments.
Mitt, Our country turned it's back on 220 years of not attacking a country that did not attack us. If we don't apologize for the catastrophe that was the W. Bush Error than our words will be meaningless in the future.
You sir are one of thevery few people who could do a worse job as president than George W Bush did.
I thank God that you were not given the chance to bring down our nation even further. And I pray that you will NEVER be given that chance in the future,
2 of the same Romney you are so full of it you belong with Sarah the Mooseburger and remember you dont even need a microphone you were born with the gift of hollaring and hate .
Mitt forgot that the election is now over! Save the campaign for the next run! This is a dying GOP party with Drug Limbaugh as the front runner!
Anything to keep his name in the news. Looking forward to seeing him burn through more of his money in 2012. Problem for him is that people see right through him, witness the 2008 primary debacle. I still think the dream ticket for 2012 will be the Palin/octomom ticket (credit to the original poster) had me in tears of laughter.
If Mitt Romney knows so much, how come he isn't President?