The Washington Post

John Boehner offers veiled critique of Mitt Romney’s Russia comments

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is joined by other members of the House GOP leadership Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/GETTY IMAGES)

On Tuesday morning when he was asked to respond to a comment Mitt Romney made that Russia is the United States’ number one geopolitical foe, Boehner began by advancing an increasingly unusual theory in American politics.

“While the president is overseas,” Boehner said, “I think it’s appropriate that we not be critical of him or of our country.”

The comment could be interpreted as a subtle swipe at Romney, who made the remark Monday in the context of slamming President Obama for telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev— in a conversation that was picked up by an open mike— that he would have more flexibility to discuss missile defense after the November election.

View Photo Gallery: Many political leaders have been caught making statements not intended for the public.

The Republican presidential candidates quickly hit Obama over the moment, which was intended to a private conservation with Medvedev. Romney called it “alarming” and “troubling.”

“This is a president who is telling us one thing and doing something else and is planning on doing something even more frightening,” Romney said on CNN Monday.

He went on to call Russia “not a friendly actor” on the world stage and a leading foe of the country with whom Obama should not be negotiating to provide further defense.

Boehner said he too was “concerned” by the direction Russia has been moving in recent years but declined to label the former superpower as the United States’ biggest foe.

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Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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