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‘Mitt Romney was right about Russia’: Media look back on his much-maligned comments from 2012

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was praised for his past comments on Russia

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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaking at a committee meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Greg Nash, Associated Press

With the threat of an invasion in Ukraine looming, some national political commentators are looking back at then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s comments about Russia in 2012 that received widespread criticism at the time.

It’s time to admit it: Mitt Romney was right about Russia,” reads a CNN headline.

The news: The ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine hit another level Tuesday as the White House called the recent Russian moves on Ukraine an “invasion,” according to The Associated Press.

  • Hours later, President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs Tuesday as a response to “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
  • Some commentators responded to the news by pointing to comments Romney made back in 2012.

Flashback: In 2012, Romney — who was running for president against then-President Barack Obama and is now a Utah senator — said Russia was a major enemy for the United States.

  • “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” he told Wolf Blitzer in March 2012. “They — they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.”
  • Critics at the time slammed Romney, saying he did not fully understand foreign threats to the U.S.

Now, it’s a different story. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza points out, the comment by Romney “now looks very, very different. It should serve as a reminder that history is not written in the moment — and that what something looks like in that moment is not a guarantee of what it will always look like.”

  • Tim Graham, who works for the conservative Media Research Center, told Fox News Digital that “it looks more like a signature (bias) moment in retrospect, that everyone can recognize Romney was right … just as they now recognize Romney was a much more decent chap than they painted him,” Graham said. “But in the ardor of battle, in reelecting Obama, demonizing was king.”

Not to mention, CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod said Romney had a point, too, according to Fox News.

  • “Russia is a maligned force, and it’s especially, given some of the tools they have now. … That they are a major, major problem,” Axelrod said. “And we’re going to experience the impact of that for some time.”
  • “So, yeah, looking back, he is a problem,” Axelrod continued. “And, you know, there’s no other way to look at it. Romney had a point.”