Washington (CNN) – The current president has been in the Oval Office for just over a year, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has already issued his verdict: Obama has failed.
"President Obama fails to understand America," Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington during a detailed speech that listed the myriad ways the new administration has made the country worse.
Romney mentioned the recent political difficulties of the Republican party, but he said "2009 was the president's turn to suffer losses, and not just at the ballot box, but also in bill after bill in Congress, and most importantly, in his failure to reignite the economy."
He said Obama has come up short at nearly every turn during his brief time in office: Senate Democrats stood in the way of his agenda, the unemployment rate grew, and Scott Brown gave Republicans the crucial final vote to block his attempt at health care reform.
The once and possibly future presidential candidate even called on Brown to introduce him to the CPAC crowd, a surprise appearance that brought wide-eyed conference-goers to their feet. One young woman was spotted later talking excitedly into her cell phone: "Scott Brown AND Dick Cheney showed up and we saw them both in person!"
Brown claimed to have driven his now famous pick-up truck to the event, held at a Washington hotel, and praised Romney for encouraging him to keep fighting for his beliefs in the traditionally Democratic state of Massachusetts.
He said Romney was "the first guy to push me along to encourage me to make a difference."
Romney, perhaps making a nod to his sometimes troubled relationship with the party's conservative wing, acknowledged that he and his fellow Massachusetts Republicans have "been understandably regarded somewhat suspiciously in gatherings like this" but celebrated Brown's special election victory along with the audience.
Though Romney did not shy away from standing up for President Bush during his own campaign in 2008 - particularly on national security matters – he offered some of his warmest words yet for the 43rd president.
"I am convinced that history will judge President Bush far more kindly" than President Obama, Romney said. "He pulled us from a deepening recession following the attack of 9-11, he overcame teachers unions to test school children and evaluate schools, he took down the Taliban, waged a war against the jihadists, and was not afraid to call it what it is, a war, and he kept us safe."
Romney added that he respects "the loyalty and indefatigable defense of truth that comes from our 'I don't give a damn' Vice President Dick Cheney."
Updated 6:30 p.m. : Brad Woodhouse, Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee, issued a statement in response to Romney's remarks Thursday:
"Mitt Romney's address to CPAC today – and the overwhelming greeting that attendees gave to Dick Cheney – makes one thing perfectly clear: the Republican Party still pines for the very leadership that bankrupted this country financially, with their reckless economic policies, and ethically, with their allegiance to special interests over the American people. And that's what real failure looks like."