Sounding once again like a presidential candidate, Mitt Romney denigrated the “Obama-Biden-Clinton” foreign policy as a “monumental bust” in a speech Friday morning to 300 of his former donors as he opened his annual conference at a ski resort in Deer Valley.
Calling out Hillary Rodham Clinton by name numerous times for what he inferred were missteps as secretary of State, Romney characterized President Obama’s foreign policy as “reaching out a hand of friendship to every nation and people, particularly those who may have been opposed to our interests in the past.”
The former Massachusetts governor, who has insisted that he will not run for president again in 2016, said with disdain that Obama had offered to meet with the leaders of Cuba and Iran while bypassing Israel during his first trip abroad as president.
Romney mocked Clinton for presenting Russia’s foreign minister with a plastic button labeled “Reset” not long before the Obama administration’s relationship deteriorated with the leaders of Russia, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He chided President Obama’s decision to cancel the U.S. missile defense battery in Poland while asking “for nothing in return.” In Syria, he noted that Obama declared a red line and called for the exit of Syrian leader Bashar Assad but “then walked back from the former and did virtually nothing to accomplish the latter.”
“He and his people will try to hide from their record,” Romney said. “Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that some world leaders ‘may not be happy’ when they read her new book,” Romney said, adding that she singled out Putin.
“Please,” Romney said. “This from the woman who was gushing with smiles when she presented his minion with her red reset button.”
Romney argued that the results of the Obama administration’s foreign policy had been “sobering.” He noted that Syria is still engaged in its third year of civil war, North Korea carried out nuclear and long range missile tests, Russia annexed Crimea and that an emboldened China “has asserted itself militarily in the South China Sea.”
“Jihadism and extremism are surging and on the rise in the Middle East and Africa. The Taliban is not defeated in Afghanistan,” Romney said as he spoke to his former donors in a theater-in-the-round setting. “And tragically, all that we fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp of vanishing.”
Romney also argued that China and Russia are gaining ground, economically and militarily.
“If we walk away from global involvement, we may find ourselves increasingly isolated, under a kind of siege, with freedom itself in jeopardy,” he said, calling for a new effort to reshape American foreign policy at a conference where five potential candidates are addressing his former donors.
Romney’s harsh critique of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State stands in stark contrast with that of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential 2016 contender who said in California this week that Clinton was a “very, very capable public servant, great secretary of State, first lady.”
Perry was not present at the Park City conference, but many Republican donors were eager to talk about Clinton’s missteps on her book tour this week as they socialized with several potential GOP candidates at the conference, including U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will also address the donor summit but were arriving later.
During interviews earlier this week, Rand Paul said that the book tour had shown Clinton was not ready for prime time and mocked her remarks about her wealth, inviting her to come to his state to talk to Americans who are actually struggling.”
Paul Ryan, who led some donors on a skeet shooting expedition early Friday morning in Utah, had only a brief quip about his view of Clinton’s tenure: “What Mitt said,” Romney’s former running mate said after Romney’s speech Friday.