In a foreign policy speech, he also accused the president of betraying the trust of the closest U.S. allies. Summary.
RENO, NEV. - On the eve of a trip abroad intended to burnish his qualifications to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney accused Obama administration officials on Tuesday of betraying the country by leaking national security secrets for political gain and failing to stand up to adversaries like China, Russia and Iran.
Romney's address at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention was the most expansive foreign policy speech of his candidacy and opened a new and aggressive attack on President Obama on national security. The Republican challenger has struggled to gain traction on foreign policy issues against Obama, who has enjoyed public support for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and good marks in polls for his handling of American diplomacy.
"This conduct is contemptible," Romney said of leaks for which he blames the administration. "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence."
Romney stopped short of accusing Obama specifically of leaking information that included details of the mission that killed Bin Laden last year. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two federal prosecutors to get to the bottom of the leaks, but Romney suggested that wasn't good enough, insisting on a special prosecutor.
The speech highlighted a broader theme: that Obama and his administration "betrayed" the trust of America's closest allies -- Romney used a form of that word three times -- forsaking nations such as Poland, the Czech Republic and particularly Israel, whose leaders the president "is fond of lecturing," Romney said.
"He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was," Romney said.
The focus on Israel comes as Romney begins an overseas trip on Wednesday that is to take him to Britain, Poland and Israel, where his meetings with Israeli leaders are expected to provide a sounding board for his concerns about the Iranian nuclear threat and what he considers the Obama administration's lack of resolve in confronting it.
In his speech, Romney for the first time demanded that Iran halt all nuclear enrichment activities, but he did not say what he would do as president if the Iranians failed to accede to his demand.
Romney's provocative choice of words added to Republican efforts to define Obama as out of step with basic American goals and values. In his speech, Romney cast himself as an "unapologetic believer in the greatness" of the United States while characterizing Obama as a leader who has "given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due."
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said Obama "has made abundantly clear that he has no tolerance for leaks." And Vice President Joe Biden assailed Romney's speech as "empty rhetoric," full of criticism "without offering any alternatives."
The AP contributed to this report.