Joe Biden entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, a week after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was made public. Mueller found that Russian interference in the 2016 election was “sweeping and systematic,” but in his last campaign, Biden repeatedly mocked Republican Mitt Romney for warning that Russia and leader Vladimir Putin were a threat to the United States.
Candidate Romney sounded the alarm in the 2012 presidential race after President Barack Obama, unaware microphones were on, told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. And after the election I’ll have more flexibility,” a message Medvedev said he’d deliver to then-Prime Minister Putin.
“Russia, this is, without question, our number-one geopolitical foe,” Romney said in March 2012. “They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors. So the idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very troubling indeed.”
Biden, Obama’s vice president, derided Romney for those comments a month later. “Gov. Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset,” Biden said at an April campaign event, calling Romney a “Cold War holdover” with an “apparent determination to take U.S.-Russian relations back to the 1950s.”
He was even more dismissive in an interview that month with Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.” “He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary. I don’t know where he has been,” Biden scoffed. “We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran.”
“This is not 1956,” Biden continued. “He just seems to be uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality.” He said Romney’s assessment “exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy.”
Obama famously knocked Romney on Russia in an October debate, saying, “Gov. Romney, I’m glad you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a couple of months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
Romney, now a senator representing Utah, held his ground. “Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe. And I said in the same paragraph that Iran is the greatest national security threat that we face,” he said. “I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin.”
Biden followed up with a tweet: “These debates have exposed that Gov. Romney and Paul Ryan have a foreign policy right out of the ’80s, a social policy out of the ’50s.”
Since Obama defeated Romney and won a second term in 2012, Putin’s Russia has annexed Crimea, made multiple military incursions into Ukraine, been connected to the deadly shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, continued to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime, and attempted to interfere in elections in Europe and the United States.