Mitt Romney offered rare praise for President Barack Obama Sunday, telling supporters at a San Francisco fundraiser that his opponent did "the right thing" by traveling to Colorado to meet with family members of those killed in Friday's shooting.
"I know the president is in Colorado today before he'll be here in San Francisco. He's visiting with families of the victims, which is the right thing for the president to be doing on this day, and we appreciate that," Romney said.
Romney's comments come just days after he and Obama opted to put their political rhetoric aside in the aftermath of Friday's shooting, which left 12 dead and another 59 people wounded at an Aurora movie theater. Both candidates used their campaign events Friday to focus on the shooting—instead of attacking each other—while their campaigns pulled political ads airing in Colorado.
Speaking at a finance event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Romney told supporters he would not be making his usual stump speech.
"I will note that my remarks today will not be as partisan as normal. Instead, I'll talk about my vision for the country, in part keeping with the seriousness and the thoughts of the day," Romney said. "We obviously have heavy hearts given a reminder of loss, loss of young minds and youthful voices and soaring spirits, lost senselessly and thoughtlessly. We turn to a power greater than our own to understand the purpose, and if not to understand, then at least to soothe the wounds of those who have been so seriously hurt."
But while Romney did not attack his Democratic opponent, he did get in a subtle dig at Obama. Romney told donors he had an impromptu meeting Sunday with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who was staying at the Fairmont Hotel, where Romney's Sunday fundraising event was held. According to a Romney aide, Carr sought and received a meeting with Romney, who shared details of the encounter with supporters Sunday night.
"He said 'America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline,'" Romney said. "What he meant by that is that if we get serious about taking steps to make sure that America will finally get to a balanced budget, and if we make sure these unfunded liabilities don't crush us, if we show the world that we come together to get that job done, if we have real leadership that will get Congress to work together and actually reach that conclusion, that agreement, than the world will recognize America's going to come roaring back."
Romney said Carr's comments were "interesting."
"That's not talk we hear about here as much as they're hearing there. And if they're thinking about investing in America--entrepreneurs putting their future in America--if they think America's in decline, they're not gonna do it," Romney said.
The Carr meeting comes just days before Romney is set to kick off a major trip overseas aimed at boosting his foreign policy credentials.
It has long been considered poor form for politicians to criticize sitting a sitting president while traveling overseas, and Romney aides insist their boss won't use his trip to attack Obama. But Romney's re-telling of Carr's comments about America's "decline" is perhaps a sign of how Romney will navigate the tricky ground of criticizing Obama without directly criticizing him.