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."
Stick to your bronze medals Mitt...
Face the facts, you will never ever ever win a national election especially against President Obama
Romney couldn't even wrest the GOP nomination from John McCain. Has been, wannabe. Find something constructive, Mitt, instead of just crying.
So I'm guessing by criticizing Obama's opposition to Bush's policies, Romney is saying he supported the Bush administration.
Show me a Dem who actually stands up for and supports this country and its military, and I'll show you someone who really isn't a Democrat. They'll throw this country under the bus for votes, or to look good in the eyes of other countries. Obama apologizing in Europe, Pelosi kissing backsides in China, yep, their taking this country straight into the toilet
Note to Mitt: You LOST! Not only that, you didn't even make the final cut. Republicans voted you off the island.
It's clear that he is running for president in 2012. It's also clear that his message is the same of GOP message; billions for military spending and wealthy cronies, nothing for America and the middle class.
"Tour of Apology"? Pll-EEASE....stop with the loaded rhetoric. First of all, If anything, the Republicans need to be taking a 'tour of apology' here in the US for mucking up our country. Secondly, are there any Republicans that are not so pompous, prideful, stubborn & arrogant as to completely deny the grave mistakes (bordering crimes) that the Republicans brought upon the US in the last 8 yrs (unfounded war, torture, world economic meltdown, etc.)? If so, where are they? Because what I mostly hear and see is Newt, Cheney, Rush, Romney and to a lesser extent Boehner...If that's all you've got, Lord help you!......
By the way, a man that isn't capable of admitting when they are wrong and apologizing for it, is no man at all!
Why are these GOP cronies so bitter? They just can't stand the reality of losing to the best man! What a Loser!
Who still cares what Romney says? He has proven himself to be a person of no principles who will say whatever is in his own interests at the moment – then say something completely different tomorrow.
We'd all be better off if Romney would just strap his dog to the roof of his car (again) and go hunting varmints Elmer Fudd style with his small caliber rifle (again). I have this picture in my head
And why is anything Mitt Romney says relevant?
Oh, I get it . . . He must be trying to run for President again!
Mitt Romney, you and Dick Cheney need to find a country, buy it and then the two of you can declare war on anyone you want to and go fight your war. This country is tired of war and we do not want more war but we not allow any one, including you and Dick Cheney drag us into another war.
somebody tell these idiots the era of fear mongering is over.
"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."
What empty words. Chest beating only works on people who have no concept of diplomacy. China is finally in a place where they will no longer serve as a protector to N. Korea's nuclear ambitions. If we urge action NOW, then it will damage that diplomatic shift and we will be stuck in the same position. Furrowing eyebrows isn't as manly or rugged individual cowboy-like as some in this country require all our policy decisions to be, but cowboy diplomacy didn't work for nearly a decade, and it won't work now.
Additionally, I know the media has crowned Romney the candidate for 2012, but with the Republican ranks being composed of more and more unhinged charismatics every day as they slough off moderates, I don't see them electing a Mormon.
Who cares what this man says. The reason the Republican Party – GOP is in the situation they are in is because they are always passing judgement on someone else. Inside of stating their policies and believes. Isn't it easy to be on the sidelines. NO ONE care what he saids or what the GOP states because their ideas are old and quite frankly – they are a party of OLD WHITE MALES. Who have never had to work hard or climb their way to the top.
"Action — strong, bold action coming from a position of strength and determination — is the only effective deterrent."
give me a break ! we tried it and it didn't work .
You couldn't even win a very weak Republican primary last year with however many of your millions you spent. Do you currently hold an elected office? No? Then who cares. Shut up.
Romney please put a sock in it.
Romney IS a flipflipper.Remember he In 94 he ran for senate to the left of Ted Kennedy on Gay Rights,and untill he ran for president was prochoice.He didn't run for reelection for governor because he would have lost.
Go ahead Mitt and run for president.President Obama will beat your ass badly In the general election proveded you can get past Palin and Gingrich.
You dont have a clue or a chance Mittens.You better check your magic diapers son,they must be too tight on your brain.All "think tanks" should be taxed on both sides.
Sorry Mitt, your about 2 months late with your rebuke. But it doesn't really matter what you say, North Korea has been an unpredictable state since the Eisenhower Presidency, and our current policy of containment is probably the best approach to dealing with them.
Yeah, like a Mormon would be a defense hawk.
Another idiot Republican just hoping that the terrorist strike us so he can say "We told you so". Bah, puke on them.....
I think everyone need to keep their comments to themselves.
You dont have a clue or a chance Mittens.
I have not seen one Republican offer up any thing positive. As soon as they open their mouth, it is to bash our sittting President. Just why don't the Republicans come up with a positive suggestion of what might be a good solution for something and stop tearing down our great country?