Former Barack Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau admitted Democrats were wrong to criticize Mitt Romney's 2012 assessment of Russia as "our No. 1 geopolitical foe" during an episode of the liberal podcast "Pod Save America" Thursday.
As Russia has dominated headlines with its interference in the 2016 election and the investigation into whether members of Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Kremlin, Democrats are being reminded of Romney's mocked statement in 2012 that Russia was the top geopolitical foe of the United States, citing its support of some of the world's worst actors.
Former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller, a critic of Trump, appeared Thursday on "Pod Save America," which is hosted by a revolving group of former Obama aides. They discussed the recently reported meeting taken by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian attorney last year, where he expected useful information on Hillary Clinton.
"That was one of our top complaints about ya'll's old boss, that he wasn't standing up to Russia where it was trying to undermine our influence everywhere in the world," Miller said. "The idea that you would take help from these guys is just mind-boggling."
"Look, I'm willing to say that in 2012 when we all scoffed at Mitt for saying that, gee, Russia was our No. 1 geopolitical foe, think we were a little off there," Favreau said, laughing.
"Well, thank you for that humility, Jon," Miller said. "I guess we've all been humbled a little bit over the last year in our predictions, but yeah, I think you guys were a little bit off on that one."
Co-host Dan Pfeiffer said he stood by the criticism, though.
Democrats and liberal media members jumped on Romney for his remark at the time as naive and stuck in a "Cold War mind warp." Then-Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) said Romney's statement was "preposterous." Obama himself quipped at a debate with Romney that "the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back."
Longtime Clinton ally and CNN commentator Paul Begala said Wednesday that the U.S. should be debating whether to "blow up" Russian agencies like the KGB in retaliation for its election interference.
However, Begala was among the many Democrats who thought Obama had solidly zinged Romney by quipping that his Russia stance was something out of the 1980s.
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
He expressed regret for that stance in 2016.
Miller said he welcomed all the Democrats to the "neocon fold."
— Paul Begala (@PaulBegala) December 10, 2016
Similarly, Hillary Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted Wednesday that Democrats were wrong to criticize Romney for his views on Russia in 2012.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 13, 2017