ABC News' Teddy Davis reports:
Republicans with an eye on the White House in 2012 are stepping up efforts to portray President Obama as "weak" on foreign policy.
First there was Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who has a political speech planned for June 1 in Sioux City, Iowa, telling CNN that Obama's recent meeting with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas was "irresponsible".
“When you're talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you're seeing joking around with,” Ensign told CNN on Sunday.“And I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said recently that he will decide next year on whether to run for president in 2012, criticized Obama on Monday for what he called a "weakness" in his emerging foreign policy.
"Everywhere in Latin America, enemies of America are going to use the picture of Chavez smiling and being with the president as proof that Chavez is now legitimate, that he's acceptable," Gingrich told NBC's "Today." "It does matter to the world if the United States tolerates a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign and then smiles and greets the person who’s systematically been anti-American for his entire career."
The latest potential Republican presidential candidate to portray Obama as weak on foreign policy is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
In a Tuesday op-ed for National Review Online, Romney calls Obama "a timid advocate of freedom," adding that he "failed his early foreign-policy tests."
Romney's op-ed criticizes Obama on a series of foreign policy issues.
The former Massachusetts governor says Obama did not adequately stand up to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega's denunciation of U.S. efforts to "free" Cuba and Romney criticizes Obama for telling "Arabic television" that America "dictated" to other nations.
Romney also takes Obama to task for not responding more forcefully to Iran's announcement that it has successfully mastered every step necessary to enrich uranium or to North Korea's launch of a long-range missile.
"As one of the world’s most oppressive and tyrannical regimes is on the brink of securing the 'game changing' capability to reach American shores with a nuclear weapon, the president shrinks from action: no seizure of North Korean funds, no severance of banking access, no blockade," writes Romney.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee responded to the criticism of Obama by charging that Americans rejected the "Republicans' cowboy, go-it-alone approach to foreign policy" in November.
"Why anyone in America would take foreign policy advice from Republicans who supported the failed polices of the last eight years -- policies which made us less safe at home and less respected in the world - is beyond us," DNC spokesperson Brandi Hoffine told ABC News. "Playing politics with foreign policy as these folks are doing is exactly what made us less safe and damaged our relationships with our allies in the first place."