Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “outperformed” President Obama on the world stage, slamming the administration's handling of relations with Moscow.
“I think Putin has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage,” said Romney in an interview with NBC.
“We are and I've said this before geopolitical adversaries, not enemies, but adversaries geopolitically and Putin lines up with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and gave Assad the cover that he needed and won a diplomatic battle with regards to Syria,” he continued. “And he likewise keeps Edward Snowden as a bit of a stick in the eye at America."
Democrats and the Obama campaign mocked Romney during the 2012 race after he called Russia America's “number one geopolitical foe.” Critics said that the remark suggested that Romney was stuck in a Cold War mindset. But in his interview with NBC, the former GOP contender suggested that developments had proved him right.
“I think most observers of the geopolitical scene suggest that Russia has elevated itself in stature and America has been diminished,” said Romney.
Obama and Putin have had an icy relationship and clashed over a number of issues, from gay rights to Syria to Snowden, who received asylum from Russia after leaking classified information detailing the nation’s secret surveillance.
On Syria, Putin has long been a defender of embattled strongman Assad and helped broker a deal for international inspectors to disarm Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile to avert a threatened U.S. military strike.
But critics of the deal say that Putin outmaneuvered America and helped Assad remain in power. International groups said that Syria is likely to miss key deadlines for collecting and handing over their chemical arsenal.
Obama also snubbed Putin by naming several openly gay athletes as part of his delegation to the Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi in February. The move came after Russian lawmakers passed anti-gay legislation in 2012, leading to public criticism from Obama.