Albright Apologizes to Romney for Mocking His 'Geopolitical Foe' Assessment of Russia

Albright was featured in 2012 Obama video saying Romney's words were 'very dangerous'

Madeleine Albright / Getty Images
February 26, 2019

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized to Mitt Romney on Tuesday for previously mocking his 2012 description of Russia as the country's top geopolitical foe.

Reporters tweeted Albright offered a mea culpa to now-Sen. Romney (R., Utah), then the 2012 GOP nominee, at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, saying "we underestimated what was going on with Russia."

Romney's comment in a CNN interview that Russia was "our No. 1 geopolitical foe" was widely viewed as a gaffe by Democrats and the media. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden mocked his "Cold War" mindset, and then-Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) said it was a "preposterous notion."

Romney made the remark in response to Obama telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would "have more flexibility" with regard to Russia and missile defense after his election fight was over.

Romney stipulated that the greater national security threat was a potentially nuclear Iran, but he said Russia was a greater geo-strategic threat because of its alliances with some of the world's worst actors.

Albright was featured in an Obama campaign video castigating then-presidential candidate Romney for his assessment of Russia at the time, along with former Obama official Michele Flournoy.

"The statements that Governor Romney makes show little understanding of what is actually going on in the 21st century," Albright said in the video. "He is not up to date, and that is a very dangerous aspect. That's just an example of his 20th-century approach to 21st-century issues."

Obama told Romney at their third debate that year that the "1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back," in one of their more memorable exchanges.

Other Obama allies have also admitted they were too quick to criticize Romney at the time, like Paul Begala, former speechwriter Jon Favreau, and former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

In the years since Obama's reelection, Russia's invasion of Crimea and meddling in the 2016 election have dominated headlines.

The New York Times editorial board wrote of Romney's remarks in 2012: "His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender."

In 2017, the same editorial board said President Donald Trump was acting indifferently to a "rival foreign power" over its "aggressive cyberattack."

MSNBC host Steve Kornacki noted Russia under Vladimir Putin had already engaged in considerable belligerent activity when Obama and others attacked Romney for his remarks.