Romney described a country that has lost its way under Obama and warned that impending defense cuts, demanded by the agreement last year to raise the borrowing limit, could threaten national security.
He also criticized the leaks of classified material — about drone operations and the raid that killed bin Laden — that has appeared in various books, magazines and newspapers. He called on Obama to allow a “special counsel” to investigate the leaks, which he said were made to benefit Obama’s campaign.
“What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?” Romney said. “I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.”
Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney referred questions about Romney’s accusation to the federal prosecutors investigating the matter. He said the president has made it “abundantly clear” that he has no tolerance for leaks, which he said are damaging to national security.
Romney will leave Wednesday for a tour of England, Israel and Poland, and his itinerary helps illustrate the critique of Obama’s foreign policies that he offered Tuesday.
After beginning in London, where he will attend the Olympic Games, Romney is scheduled to head to Israel.
Obama has increased U.S. military aid to Israel and cooperated in the building of Israel’s missile-defense system, Iron Dome.
But the president has had a tense relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over Israel’s settlement construction on land that Palestinians consider their future state.
Romney is likely to offer a clear contrast. But how the Republican, who during a forum last year played down a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, intends to speak about the conflict is unclear and may test his diplomatic fluency on a core issue.
In his speech, he said Obama is “fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders.” But, he said, “the people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.”
Iran probably will be the chief point of interest when Romney meets Netanyahu, whom he has known since the the mid-1970s, when they became friends as colleagues at the Boston Consulting Group.
“There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said. “Yet for all the talk and conferences, all the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?”
The solution he outlined, though, mirrors Obama’s approach — a series of strict sanctions “cutting off the regime’s source of wealth,” negotiations and access for nuclear inspectors. Obama has declined to rule out a military strike.
Romney’s last stop will be Poland, which, along with the Czech Republic, he used Tuesday as an example of Obama’s “abandonment of friends” because soon after taking office, the president reconfigured a George W. Bush-era missile-defense system to be based there.
Obama said the changes made the system more effective in stopping potential missile attacks from Iran or North Korea. At the same time, it was also more acceptable to Russia, which American hawks criticized as a sign of weakness toward a country whose ambitions are still suspect in the region.
Romney’s past characterization of Russia as the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe” also has drawn criticism from the Obama campaign, namely Vice President Biden, who has accused Romney of being trapped in a Cold War mentality.
In a statement issued by the campaign, Biden said: “All we heard from Governor Romney was empty rhetoric and bluster. He reflexively criticizes the President’s policies without offering any alternatives. When he does venture a position, it’s a safe bet that he previously took exactly the opposite position and will probably change his mind again and land in the wrong place — far out of the mainstream.”
Amy Gardner contributed to this report.