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."
Please, who cares what Romney says on his most current pollster-driven reinvention tour? The guy's so fake he makes a Ken doll look human.
Obama is very Naive when it comes to foreign policy. Actually he is pretty Naive with domestic policy as well. Like a kid in the candy store buying anything and everything, he just bought GM! Too bad the Liberals can't see the destruction process taking place in America, and continue to Blame Bush for all of Obamas huge and costly mistakes.
Mitt Romney is an idiot.
Romney is wrong...this is just more Republican trash-talking.
Mitt, thanks for expressing your veiws to the American public. I am sure the Americans that supported you in the last election (the two or three states) care what you think.
I am sure as a former Governor your international perspective is being drawn on your state experience.
This is complete crap. Romney is just beating the same tired republican drum of fear mongering that George Bush used since 9/11. Go away Romney you lost the nomination and ad your moment in the sun. Try offering helpful suggestions and not jingoistic rhetoric.
GO ROMNEY.. Enough of this sorry I will be your best friend crap!! We need a strong nation. We cannot let are guard down ever. With North Korea and Iran building up there nuclear weapons we need to act fast and smart!!
Ok. Why is this guy running for office this soon?
Mr. Romney if you want to help defend our country, convince your sons to join the military.
It seems that most of the gung-ho people never put their asses on the line, Cheney and his five count'em deferments during Vietnam. Cheney's montra was, "Hell no I don't want to go."
romney, the gop is the party of war. killing innocent people.
Wow, republicans are still trying to use fear to get votes.
"Arrogant, delusional tyrants?"
Is he talking about the Bush Administration?
mr rommany the failed presidential tycoon now bostering with a loud and dirt mouth that president obama is putting country at risk what about the economical turmoil the republican and itsd arogant presidency put the country in hopeless position in the world did bushn cout laden did bush shaved the economy the banks? if not then where he was gone in the heaven of bar? that now he is finger pointting to obama who is tring his best to come out of these republican mess?
Thank you CNN for keeping up the reminding of what these White dudes like Mitt are like in the Repub Party. Mitt thinks 'only' WHITE men can be on the court. Mitt thinks 'only' threatening and starving people is the way to deal with the world. SHUT UP Mitt, you did not even get your party nomination. Jealous!
**Go buy a new house or get your hair done Mitt.
Another Republican half baked whiner....
Seems to me that Romney is determined to link himself with the other fear mongering idjits. He's going to lose the rest of us, not that he ever "had" me!
And the 15 minutes of fame continue..........stumping for 2012 already????
we got two wars going on ...soldiers on the fifth and sixth tours of duty coming home and committing suicide ...and romney is talking about the need for obama talking tougher ...hey, mitt – why aren't any of your five army-aged sons fighting in the wars? a real patriot – NOT!! a real chicken hawk
Barrack Obama is the most unqualified president we've ever had and we will be lucky to survive his 1 and only term in office.
Mitt, Mitt, Mitt... He apologizes to the world because the last administration, alienated us from Europe. They still are a tad bit leary about us. Why do you think that they watch our elections, to see who they would have to deal with. Someone who has brains or someone who can't put two words correctly in a sentence.
I for one am glad "Mittens" Romney isn't the president.
YES!! You tell em Romney.....we must be the big dog so the world will listen and do what they are told.
Wait.....what? It didn't work for the Bush admin? Hrm. So you're telling me no one was afraid of Bush/Cheney? North Korea built the bomb anyway? Iran continued it's development? Chevez has found suppliers and started work on his own program? Didn't we lay down the law with these people?
And GW pissed off Russia too? I think Obama fixed that though. Good to have the "other superpower" on our side again.
Who's listening to Phony Rommney, flip-flopper, waffler. And the song remains the same.
Arrogant American citizens are a pain in the rear end too, Mr Romney.
That's one reason many citizens of other countries don't like us.
Nice to hear from the Manchurian candidate.