Russ Feingold slams GOP candidates on foreign policy

Russ Feingold on Wednesday slammed the GOP presidential field for ignoring foreign policy, blaming the Tea Party for pushing it to the backburner.

"The Republican field is choosing only those things to talk about in foreign policy where they think they can hurt the president," the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin said on CBS's "This Morning." As an example, he used the GOP field's focus on the potential nuclear threat in Iran.

He singled out Newt Gingrich in his criticism, though he also referenced former GOP candidate Herman Cain.

"Turning to a guy like Gingrich, who's pretty hostile to the rest of the world, would be a terrible misstep and going backwards," he said. "Gingrich ran an ad attacking Romney for knowing French. I don't think it's a bad thing for somebody to be able to communicate overseas."

Feingold, author of this week's new book While America Sleeps, was also announced on Wednesday as one of the national campaign co-chairmen for the Obama reelection campaign.

Feingold, who fought for campaign finance reform during his time in Congress, has criticized Obama for refusing public financing during the 2008 election. He said he accepted his newly announced position with the Obama campaign despite the fact that he disagrees with Obama's decision to publicly accept support through a super-PAC.

But he said Obama doesn't get enough credit for his foreign-policy achievements. 

"To me, the gap between President Obama and these people [the GOP candidates] is so enormous that it's a threat to our country to elect people who take such a silly view of the rest of the world," he told The Huffington Post in a report published Tuesday.

"Herman Cain was the ultimate example," he told CBS. Feingold referred to Cain as an example of a Tea Party candidate. "They asked him about Uzbekistan. He called it 'Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan' and made fun of it. Well, Uzbekistan is just to the north of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It's an important country. We shouldn't make fun of it, we should understand it, and all Americans should be part of understanding the rest of the world."