Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama over the forced, across-the-board spending cuts--known in Washington as the sequester--scheduled to kick in Friday.
"Well, no one can think that's been a success for the president. He didn't think the sequester would happen. It is happening," Romney said in part of an interview that aired Friday on Fox News. "But to date, what we've seen is the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country, and berating Republicans. And blaming and pointing. Now what does that do? That causes the Republicans to retrench and then put up a wall and fight back. It's a very natural human emotion."
Romney has almost entirely stayed out of the spotlight since he lost the presidential race in November. The comments mark the first time the former Massachusetts governor has publicly criticized the president since the election. Romney met privately with Obama at the White House in late November, but few details about their conversation were released.
The Fox News interview, which will air in full on Sunday, came the same day Obama again charged Congressional Republicans with failing to compromise and work with Democrats to craft a deficit-reduction deal.
Republicans, in turn, say they already compromised on the issue when Congress passed a fiscal cliff bill two months ago that included an increase in tax rates. House Speaker John Boehner reiterated Friday the real focus should be on spending reductions, not more tax reform.
In preparation for the budget slashing, the Immigration Customs and Enforcement decided to release hundreds of "low-risk, non-criminal detainees" this week in order to keep detention levels within the agency's overall budget. The White House said the decision was made without its knowledge or input.
Asked about the decision, Romney said: "I think the president has to act in the interest of the country."
"And that means if we need an aircraft carrier in the Gulf - and I believe we do, I thought we needed one more - he should do it," he continued. "I think if there are people who are incarcerated, he should make sure that we're able to keep them in jail."
Romney further chalked up the move to a political ploy.
"Look, it's politics. It's, 'OK, How do we do something that will get a headline that will make it look like those terrible Republicans aren't willing to come together?"