Washington » President Barack Obama must take a stronger hand in punishing North Korea and boost U.S. military spending to protect America, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned Monday in a speech meant to burnish his foreign policy credentials.
Romney, speaking at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, said Obama's slash to the nation's ballistic missile defense system was a "grave miscalculation" that puts America at risk. And Obama cannot continue expanding government while cutting defense spending, Romney said.
"The president's planned budgets and multitrillion dollar deficits, financed by a level of borrowing never before attempted by any nation, puts our whole economy in jeopardy," Romney said in the speech, sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation. "He may take us past the tipping point and create a crisis of confidence in the dollar that would burden us for years."
In a stinging rebuke of Obama's actions in his first four months in office, Romney, who lost his presidential bid in the Republican primary, said the commander-in-chief needs to do more than chastise North Korea for its nuclear weapons tests.
"Arrogant, delusional tyrants can't be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows," Romney said. "Action -- strong bold action -- coming from a position of strength and determination, is the only effective deterrent."
Romney increased his criticism of Obama as the former Massachusetts governor continues to keep up his appearances ahead of a potential 2012 run against the Democratic president.
The White House and the Democratic National Committee declined comment when asked for a response.
Romney, who ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, joined with ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor and others in a new group called the National Council for a New America, whose efforts are focused on reviving the Republican Party.
Romney also said that although the country previously has made mistakes -- apparently a reference to actions taken by the Bush administration -- Obama should stop apologizing to other countries for them.
"The president also claimed on Arabic TV that America has dictated to other nations. No, America has sacrificed to free other nations from dictators," Romney said to enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Romney criticized Obama for cutting defense spending, the White House actually suggested an increase of 4 percent, or $21 billion in additional money for the Defense Department. The administration did suggest cutting some funding, including to the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, while boosting spending elsewhere.