Mitt Romney

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, here greeting supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in May, told a conference of donors in Park City, Utah, on Friday that he will not attempt a third presidential run in 2016. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Maeve Reston
June 13, 2014

Mitt Romney insisted Friday that he would not attempt a third presidential run in 2016. But he sounded very much like the candidate he once was as he sharply criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton’s record and denigrated the “Obama-Biden-Clinton” foreign policy as a “monumental bust.”

Opening a foreign policy-focused conference with 300 of his top donors on Friday, Romney chided President Obama for “reaching out a hand of friendship to every nation and people,” even those who have endangered U.S. interests, such as Iran and North Korea.

Romney said Obama had offered to meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. A White House spokesman said that assertion was flatly untrue.

Noting Russia’s recent incursion into and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, he mocked Clinton’s presentation of a “reset” button to Russian officials a few years ago — at a time when the Obama administration was trying to energize the relationship — and disputed her suggestion that she had been firm in challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Please,” Romney said of the former secretary of State’s approach toward Russia. “This from the woman who was gushing with smiles when she presented [Putin’s] minion with her red reset button.”

Romney, vilified in the 2012 campaign by Democrats as a wealthy and out-of-touch businessman, drew the line at wading into the controversy over Clinton’s remarks about her personal wealth as she launched her book tour this week. (Asked why she and her husband had decided to make expensive speeches after they left office, she said she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House and “struggled” to put together money for mortgages. Their 1990s-era debts had long been dispatched by the time she left office last year and began earning hundreds of thousands of dollars for appearances.)

“I’m not going to give any advice to Secretary Clinton,” Romney said with a smile. “Politics is a rough-and-tumble process.”

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