Mitt Romney has a message for the owners of the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal: “Russia, we will bury you,” he exclaimed as he removed his right shoe and pounded it on a nearby desk during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Russia’s children will be capitalists!”
The GOP front-runner’s hostile remarks came as President Obama was in Seoul, South Korea, engaged in talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev critical to both securing nuclear materials away from the clutches of terrorists and the US’ proposed missile defense systems in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Romney’s rant came after a moment of unabashed diplomatic strategy was caught by microphones in Seoul: “After my election,” President Obama told Medvedev, “I will have more flexibility.”
Romney quickly pounced on this apparent gaffe with a vitriol-filled condemnation of Russia. “Whether you like it or not, Ruskies, history is on our side,” Romney said. “Your children will all grow-up to be severely conservative free-marketeers.”
To Medvedev’s credit, he had a good laugh at Romney’s foreign relations blunder: “Mr. Romney, you can come out of your bomb shelter, now” Medvedev joked. “The old Soviet Union’s first strike on the USA is not scheduled to happen until 1972. So by the GOP’s calendar, you still have two decades of safety left.”
President Obama explained that while his comments were frank and intended to gain Russia’s trust, Romney’s response had underscored Russian fears about political instability in the US.
When later asked if he believed his remarks were deleterious to US foreign affairs and global security, Romney doubled-down against Russia: “They are America’s single greatest geopolitical threat, and talking with them, trying to get them to have faith in the word and peaceful intentions of the United States, well, that’s treason! President Obama should be instigating conflict with the Russians, not trying to get them to secure their nuclear arsenal from terrorists and agree to missile defense systems that will render threats such as Iran and North Korea inconsequential.”
When asked to comment on the incident, Rick Santorum, Romney’s top competitor for the GOP’s nomination, stated, “The problem with Russia is that they are an atheist country at war with God, and that is why Obama is trying to get our once great country to model the USSR. Romney wants to make the Soviets become capitalists, but I’ll do better than that: I’ll make them become Christians.”
When asked about Santorum’s comments, Romney replied, “Capitalism and Christianity are basically the same thing.”