Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney wrote an article on the website of Foreign Policy on Tuesday in which he stated that President Barack Obama‘s exchanges with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev illustrated “breathtaking weakness” in foreign policy. He also described the current situation as “a sad replay of Jimmy Carter‘s bungling”.
“The Russians clearly prefer to do business with the current incumbent of the White House,” he wrote. A few hours earlier during the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, Mr. Obama inadvertently held a private conversation with Mr. Medvedev while his microphone was live.
The president explained to his Russian counterpart that certain issues could be solved if he was given more “space”. “I understand your message about space,” Mr. Medvedev replied.
“This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” President Obama elaborated. Some journalists immediately interpreted the president’s remarks as suggesting that he was willing to do something which would please the Russians while at the same time upset American voters.
When Mr. Romney appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room on Monday, he told Wolf Blitzer that Russia was “without question our number one geopolitical foe”. The Russian president dismissed Mr. Romney‘s remarks during a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday, stating that the former Massachusetts governor’s comments “smacked of Hollywood” and were out of place since the Cold War was over. “It’s 2012, not the mid-1970s,” Mr. Medvedev said. “Whatever party he belongs to, he must take the existing realities into account,” he added.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) criticized Mr. Romney for attacking Mr. Obama while he was out of the country. “While the president is overseas, I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or of our country,” he told reporters. However, he added the U.S. needed to be prudent when dealing with Russia. “Clearly what’s going on in Russia over the last couple of years raises some concerns,” he warned.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently won the presidential election, although widespread vote rigging is believed to have taken place. Mr. Romney also criticized President Obama after it was revealed that he had contacted Mr. Putin to congratulate him on his victory.