By KASIE HUNT, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sharpening his attacks, Mitt Romney on Tuesday accused President Barack Obama of trying to ingratiate himself with the Kremlin as part of a pattern of "breathtaking weakness'" in foreign policy.
"The Russians clearly prefer to do business with the current incumbent of the White House," Romney wrote in an opinion piece on the website of the magazine Foreign Policy.
The article represented an escalation of an attack Romney first leveled after Obama told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he needed "space" to deal with missile defense issues because he would have more "flexibility" after the November elections.
Romney then drew criticism Tuesday from Medvedev after he labeled the Russians as America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe" in a Monday interview. The Russian president said Romney's comment "smacked of Hollywood" and recalled the bygone Cold War era.
"It's 2012, not the mid-1970s, and whatever party he belongs to, he must take the existing realities into account," Medvedev said.
House Speaker John Boehner, the country's top-ranking Republican, chided Romney for criticizing the president during a foreign trip. Obama was in South Korea at a nuclear security summit.
"While the president is overseas, I think it's appropriate that people not be critical of him or of our country," Boehner told reporters when he was asked if he agreed with Romney. "Clearly what's going on in Russia over the last couple of years raises some concerns."
The president was flying back to the U.S. when Romney's opinion piece appeared Tuesday.
In the article, Romney expanded his criticism of Obama, calling his entire foreign policy "a sad replay of Jimmy Carter's bungling" and claiming that Obama has "demonstrated breathtaking weakness." He also criticized Obama for calling Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning the presidential election earlier this year.
"It is not an accident that Medvedev is now busy attacking me," Romney wrote.
Later Tuesday, Romney addressed the topic again during an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and said of Russia: "They basically stand up for the world's worst actors."
Democrats have been aggressively defending the president since his off-mic comment became public, citing foreign policy experts who have called Romney's comments potentially dangerous or reckless.
"The level of naiveté about foreign relations that Gov. Romney displays is astounding. Worse, it is potentially dangerous for our country," said Timothy Roemer, a former ambassador to India who served on the 9/11 Commission.
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