Declaring that there is only "one president at a time," President Obama dismissed criticism from Mitt Romney's campaign over his handling of the European economic crisis and suggested his rival's team had commented without full knowledge of the situation.
In a news conference at the end of the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, Obama also denied fearing that his reelection chances could be tied to whether Europe puts its fiscal house in order. His primary focus, the president said, is the state of the American economy.
"All of these issues, economic issues, will potentially have some impact on the election," Obama said. But "I've consistently believed that if we take the right policy steps, if we're doing the right thing, then the politics will follow. And my mind hasn't changed on that."
Obama said he left the two-day gathering of the world's leading economic powers pleased with European leaders’ commitment to "take all necessary measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the Eurozone," and to promote growth in concert with fiscal responsibility.
Europe remains one of the most productive and wealthiest regions in the world, despite its current problems, he said. Obama also repeated his call for Congress to take further measures to ensure that the U.S. economy continues to grow.
The president recently used a White House news conference to call on European leaders to take more proactive steps to grow their economies. He noted that the U.S. economy had fared better in part because of stimulus measures and regulatory reforms.
Obama’s comments Tuesday were triggered by an article that Romney economic advisor Glenn Hubbard wrote in a German newspaper. Hubbard contended that Obama's advice to European nations was "misleading" and "unwise," and revealed "ignorance of the causes of the crisis and of a growth trend in the future."
Asked about Hubbard's critique at the G-20 news conference, Obama invoked a traditional political axiom.
"I would point out that we have one president at a time and one administration at a time. And I think traditionally the notion has been that America's political differences end at the water's edge," he said. "I'd also suggest that he may not be familiar with what our suggestions to the Germans have been. And I think sometimes back home there is a desire to superimpose whatever ideological arguments are taking place back home onto a very complicated situation in Europe."
Obama returns to Washington on Tuesday night, and has no public events scheduled Wednesday.