Mitt Romney delivers the opening address Friday morning at his gathering of politicians and donors at the Stien Eriksen Lodge. (Photo by Shannon Rasband
Mitt Romney delivers the opening address Friday morning at his gathering of politicians and donors at the Stien Eriksen Lodge. (Photo by Shannon Rasband Norton)

Mitt Romney is hosting his third-annual E2 or "Experts and Enthusiasts" Summit at Stein Eriksen Lodge.

The word "ideas" is used a lot by Romney and others to describe the summit, but based on Romney's Friday morning welcome address, the ideas won't necessarily be new ones.

The speech, delivered in the Stein Eriksen Ballroom, was devoted almost entirely to critiquing President Obama's foreign policy.

"During my campaign, I was asked what I thought of Obama's foreign policy. I joked that he didn't have a foreign policy. Of course, in fact he did and he does," Romney said.

"Being most generous, it could be characterized as reaching out a hand of friendship to every nation and people, particularly to those who may have opposed our interests in the past," he continued.

Romney called for greater military spending, saying Obama "cut and cut again our military budget."

Though the United States spends far more on the military than any other nation, Romney said "By the way, I'm sick of the military cut crowd saying how much more we spend than everyone else. Spending isn't the measure of military might."

Romney did not offer specific solutions to the list of global conflicts and events he ticked off as Obama's failures. Rather, he laid out four general "principles" that "should form the foundation of our foreign policy.


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Those principles are being "actively engaged in global affairs, anticipating and shaping events through diplomacy and soft power," promoting "our values -- among them, freedom, free enterprise, human rights, national sovereignty and peace," using military force "only when there is a substantial national interest at stake," and acting to "strengthen America's hand, by re-establishing our economic prowess, linking arms with our allies, and maintaining our military superiority."

"Consistent with those principles," Romney briefly and generally touched on domestic issues.

"Let's start with strengthening our core. Fix education, fix immigration, fix entitlements and deficits, fix the marriage penalty, fix our energy policy, and act boldly to ignite economic growth. I am sad to say that there has been no progress whatsoever on any one of these fronts over the last five years," he said.

Though the United States pulled its last troops out of Iraq in 2011, Romney suggested at the beginning of his speech that the war is still ongoing.

"We're near the completion of two bloody, expensive and only partially successful wars," he said.

The roster of speakers scheduled for the E2 Summit includes a who's-who of possible 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls. Romney's former running-mate Paul Ryan, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are all attending.

The gathering has filled the Stein Eriksen Lodge to capacity with former Romney donors who may be deciding who to back in 2016.

Likely looking towards that next presidential election, Romney often included Hillary Clinton in his criticism of Obama.

"The Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton foreign policy has been a monumental bust," he told attendees.

Though the summit is not strictly for Republicans -- former Democratic governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer is scheduled to speak -- Romney sometimes spoke as if it was.

"I certainly hope that our party will continue to be the party that stands for freedom, strength, equal opportunity and prosperity for anyone who will work to achieve it," he said.

In his prepared remarks, Romney's closing line was "I lost the election, but I will continue to fight." He slightly altered his actual speech, however, and included the summit attendees: "I lost the election, we lost the election, but I and we will continue to fight."