Mitt Romney has been attacking President Obama for a comment he made to Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that he’d be more “flexible” on issues like missile defense after this year’s presidential election. Romney called the comments “very, very troubling,” because Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe.” While some of Obama’s political opponents are piling on, House Speaker John Boehner tried to rein in the attacks. “While the president is overseas I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country,” he said.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who attacked then-senator Obama for political gain while he was abroad during the 2008 presidential campaign — is choosing to ignore the Republican House Speaker on national security grounds. “I respectfully disagree with Speaker Boehner,” McCain said on Fox News this morning, because, he said, “this is a very serious issue.” And when asked if he thinks, as Romney does, that Russia is America’s “number one foe,” the Arizona senator wouldn’t go that far: “I think in many respects”:
MCCAIN: I understand John Boehner’s point and I respect that but this is a very serious issue. No matter where the president is, if he makes a statement that I think could endanger the United States national security interests, I have to respond no matter where the president of the United States is. […] All I can say is I respectfully disagree with Speaker Boehner. […]
KILMEADE: Do you think they [Russia] are our geopolitical foe?
MCCAIN: I think in many respects, look at what they’re doing in Syria right now, they’re supplying arms and equipment to Bashar Assad while he slaughters and massacres his own people. Look at — they continue to prop up North Korea…and obviously now there is a president for life.
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This isn’t the first time McCain has differed with Romney on a foreign policy issue. The former Massachusetts governor said that under no condition should the United States negotiate with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. However, McCain recently disagreed. “I think it’s important to have talks wherever you can,” he said.
Medvedev also criticized Romney yesterday. “I always get very cautious when I see a country resort to phrasings such as ‘No. 1 enemy.’ It is very reminiscent of Hollywood in a certain period of history,” the Russian president said, adding, “My other advice is to check their clocks from time to time. It is 2012, not the mid-1970s.”
McCain saw Medvedev’s comment as meaning that Russia is in the tank for Obama. “They obviously want president Obama reelected, that’s pretty clear,” McCain told the Hill newspaper.
Foreign Policy reports that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also disagree with Romney. “I don’t see them as our No. 1 strategic foe because they’ve got a weak economy and structurally are not very strong,” Graham said. Lieberman added, “I wouldn’t have put in the way Mitt Romney did, but I don’t dismiss his thoughts.”