MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan (CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had sharp words for President Barack Obama's handling of foreign relations Saturday, saying that the president is "above" the world stage and acting too much as a "neutral arbiter" who uses only words to tell other nations what's right and what's wrong.
Referring to the first months of Obama's presidency, the former Republican presidential candidate said there's been a "dramatic shift," with that shift going in the wrong direction.
"America has always been a ardent supporter of democratic efforts and protecting and defending American values and western values," Romney said, "but this president seems intent to step back to - if you will - lift himself above the world stage and say we're not a player down there with everybody else between the democracies and the autocracies."
"Instead we're going to become the neutral arbiter," Romney continued. "We're going to be above everybody. Almost like the United Nations, sort of telling people what's right and what's wrong, instead of coming down firmly, solidly, and vehemently in favor of democracy."
Romney pointed to Obama's handling of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya's return to Brazil last week to illustrate one example of the president's poor judgment when it comes to world affairs.
"Honduras…tosses out their president who's trying to violate the constitution," Romney began. "This was a person who was a pro-[Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, anti-American president. And then they installed instead an acting president [Roberto Micheletti] who will follow a democratic process, [a] pro-U.S. individual. Barrack Obama comes out for the pro-Chavez president and says put him back in charge."
Romney was speaking at the biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Romney has been widely suspected to be laying groundwork for another run at the White House.
A few of his comments were aimed at the specific economic woes of Michigan - a state Romney's father governed.
Romney, and his wife Ann, heaped love on the state, saying he was "heartbroken" to see so many people out of a job but that it "doesn't have to be that way." He said one of the first things needed is a "Giuliani-style" cleanup of Detroit
One of the bigger applause lines of the night came when Romney said the state should do a few things to help attract more business folks, including lowering business taxes.
"Another thing to do would be to say we're going to make this a state which is a right to work state," he said to thunderous applause. "Of course the most convincing thing you could do would be to throw the democrats out of [the capital city of] Lansing."