Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich pounced on President Obama's hot mic comment to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit -- after Obama mentioned he wanted to wait until after the election in November to discuss the proposal to build a missile defense system in Europe.
"This is my last election," Obama told Medvedev when he thought his microphone was turned off. "After my election, I have more flexibility."
Medvedev replied saying "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir," referring to incoming President Vladimir Putin.
While speaking at a rally in San Diego, California on Monday, Mitt Romney mentioned Obama's conversation with Medvedev labeling the exchange as a "troubling development."
"This is no time for our president to be pulling punches with the American people and not telling us what he is intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might, with regards to our commitment to Israel, and with regards our absolute conviction that Iran must have a nuclear weapon," he added.
Gingrich also commented during an interview on Hannity Monday night saying, "What other countries has he had this conversation with? Who else has he said to the Iranians, to the North Koreans, a variety of places, you know, give me a little time, give me some space, let me get reelected and then I'll sell out."
Obama clarified his comment Tuesday saying, "The only way I get this stuff done is if I'm consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I've got bipartisan support. And frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations."
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes also stated, "since 2012 is an election year in both countries, with an election and leadership transition in Russia and an election in the United States, it is clearly not a year in which we are going to achieve a breakthrough."
Obama's gaffe happened on the last day of the Nuclear Security Summit at the end of Obama and Medvedev's meeting. Republicans in Congress have also accused Obama of seeking a deal with Russia that would not stand up to electoral scrutiny.
"Governor Romney has been all over the map on the key foreign policy challenges facing our nation today, offering a lot of chest thumping and empty rhetoric with no concrete plans to enhance our security or strengthen our alliances," Obama 2012 press secretary Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
"I will make it clear that our relationship around the world is one where America will be strong," refuted Romney in San Diego. "American's strength commitment to our allies will be unshakable and unwavering."