Mitt Romney, newly emboldened as the likely Republican presidential nominee, took aim at President Obama on Wednesday by focusing on his comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would be “more flexible” after he is reelected.
Using the so-called “hot mic” moment as a theme throughout his speech, Romney said at a conference of the American Society of News Editors in Washington, D.C., that Obama isn’t being candid about his plans for a second term and doesn’t have a record to run on.
“He doesn’t want to share his real plans with the American public,” Romney said. “His intent is on hiding. You and I are going to have to do the seeking.”
Romney likened the incident to Obama’s health-care bill, which then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at one point said would have to be passed before Congress would know what was contained in it. The comment is a favorite of Republicans critical of the president.
“We have to reelect him to find out what he’s going to do,” Romney said.
Romney, fresh off a win in three contests Tuesday, has taken a nearly 400-delegate lead in the Republican presidential race and is shifting into general election mode, targeting Obama and launching a fundraising effort geared toward the November election.
On Wednesday, Romney also criticized Obama for not coming forward with a detailed plan for reforming entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Obama targeted Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget for its entitlement provisions in a speech at the same conference Tuesday. In that speech, Obama said Ryan’s budget, which Romney supports, amounted to “thinly veiled Social Darwinism.”
Romney said Obama’s approach amounts to: “We don’t have a solution. All we know is we don’t like yours.”
During a question-and-answer session, Romney addressed recent polling that showed him trailing Obama by 18 points among women.
Romney attributed that shift to the GOP having lost a recent debate over whether religious institutions have to cover contraception in their employee health plans.
“The Democratic Party has done an effective job of trying to mischaracterize our views,” he said.
Romney repeated his criticism of Obama for apologizing for an incident in which Korans were burned on a U.S. air base in Afghanistan.
Romney said a president can acknowledge “mistakes here and there that might occur,” but that he shouldn’t apologize for America’s role in the world, which has been for the good.