Valerie Jarrett: Obama Doesn't Regret Mocking Romney's Warning About Russia in 2012

February 7, 2018

Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, said Wednesday on ABC's "The View" that the 44th president has no regrets about deriding Mitt Romney's assessment in 2012 that Russia was America's "number one geopolitical foe."

The conversation arose after co-host Meghan McCain told Jarrett that she had watched the The Final Year, a documentary on Obama's foreign policy during his last year in the White House, and thought it was fascinating. McCain said she specifically found the divisions between Obama's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, and his United Nations ambassador, Samantha Power, on the topics of Syria and Russia compelling.

McCain then turned to a 2012 presidential debate during which Obama ridiculed Romney, then the Republican nominee, for his prior comment calling Russia the "number one geopolitical threat facing America," as Obama described it.

"The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back," Obama said at the time.

"I remember in 2012 when President Obama took light of Putin and Russia and said it was a '1980s foreign policy' to Mitt Romney," McCain said to Jarrett. "Do you think there is a level of regret given what we know about Russian meddling and everything that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing?"

"I don't know that he looks back and regrets what he said at the time," Jarrett said. "I think the movie does a really tremendous job of getting behind the scenes of foreign policy ... and it really showed the nitty-gritty of how hard these decisions are."

"But is there any regret of not doing more?" McCain pressed.

"Certainly we have to be concerned every single day about how to keep America safe, how to get rid of foreign influence. That's why we're so concerned about what happened in the last election," Jarrett said, referring to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. "I think every single day you challenge yourself to do more and to think about the future and what you can do going forward. I think President Obama is a young man, and outside of office he is still going to be concerned with what we can do to keep America strong."

"So no regrets? No regrets?" McCain asked.

"What's the point in—would we have done something differently? I don't think so," Jarrett responded.

"Can you please tell him that we miss him terribly," Behar interjected, defusing the situation.

Not all former members of the Obama administration have shared Jarrett's sentiments regarding Russia. In July, Obama's former director of speechwriting, Jon Favreau, admitted that Democrats were "a little off" in their criticism of Romney's stance on Russia.