Boehner avoids criticizing Obama for overseas remarks, breaking with Romney

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to criticize President Obama while the president was on an overseas trip, breaking with GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Romney has attacked Obama over his comments to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that were caught on an open microphone, and he said that Russia was “America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

On Tuesday, Boehner pointedly refused to endorse Romney’s statement.

“When the president is overseas, I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country,” Boehner told reporters after a House Republican conference meeting. “Clearly what’s gone on in Russia over the last couple of years raises some concerns.”

The Speaker pointed to a speech he delivered last year, in which he criticized the Russian government on a host of issues and warned the Obama administration against expediting its entry into the World Trade Organization.

Obama on Monday made headlines when he told Medvedev, in private remarks picked up by a microphone, that he would have “more flexibility” on missile defense after his reelection later this year.

In past generations, domestic political leaders have abided by a tradition of not criticizing the president on foreign policy while he is overseas. The Republican presidential candidates have ignored that completely this year, and Boehner has not been entirely consistent himself.

His aides mocked Obama’s remark to Medvedev in Twitter messages on Monday, and a tweet from Boehner’s official account said, “When the president returns from S. Korea, we look forward to hearing what he meant by having ‘more flexibility’ on missile defense.”

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