Mitt Romney has been dragged into the Obama open mic row after describing Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” in an interview with CNN.
The Republican front-runner was reacting to comments made by President Obama in South Korea on Monday where he told Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev he would have more flexibility on missile defence after his reelection.
"This is my last election,” Obama was recorded by ABC News as saying. “After my election, I have more flexibility.”
“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Mr Medvedev, Russia's outgoing president, responded.
Neither Medvedev nor Obama intended for the comments to be made public.
Mitt Romney’s political camp was quick to jump on the gaffe, calling it a sign that Obama intends to campaign on one policy but implement another.
Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer from the campaign trail in San Diego, Mitt Romney said he found Obama's candid remarks “alarming” and “troubling”.
"Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has fought us with crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran. Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility where he doesn't have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very very troubling, very alarming. This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else," he said in the live broadcast.
Mitt Romney then went further, describing the nation as America’s number one foe.
“This is without question our number one geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very very troubling indeed, " he said.
After Wolf Blitzer challenged the statement, Mr Romney explained: "The greatest threat the US faces is a nuclear Iran ... [But] who is it who always stands up for the world’s worst actors? It’s always Russia, typically with China alongside.”