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."
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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.
At a House intelligence committee hearing, Madeline Albright just formally apologized to Mitt Romney for making fun of him in 2012 when he said Russia was our biggest geopolitical foe. She says the now Utah senator was prescient.
— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) February 26, 2019
At House intel hrg, fmr Sec State Madeleine Albright apologized to Mitt Romney for "underestimating" Russia 7 yrs ago. Albright, who was then on CIA external advisory board, said "We underestimated what was going on w/ Russia…Putin has put them back on the scene" via @leeferran
— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) February 26, 2019
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.
POTUS nails Mitt for saying Russia our #1 geostrategic threat. "The 1980's called. They want their foreign policy back." Bam!
— Paul Begala (@PaulBegala) October 23, 2012
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 13, 2017
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.
When Dems ridiculed Romney in '12, Putin had already sent tanks into Georgia, been implicated in murders of dissidents and journalists, was still seen as Russia's most powerful figure & was about to retake the presidency. Lots happened after, but a lot was already on the record. https://t.co/kzVjZcTjhT
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) February 26, 2019