03/06/2012 05:49 pm ET

John Kerry: Mitt Romney's Iran War Talk Helps Ayatollahs

Former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry chastised Mitt Romney Tuesday for "an attack on the administration’s Iran policy as inaccurate as it was aggressive," and said the GOP frontrunner was helping Iran by playing politics with war.

Romney declared in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday that President Barack Obama was the "most feckless president" since Jimmy Carter, and charged that "While Obama frets in the White House, the Iranians are making rapid progress toward obtaining the most destructive weapons in the history of the world."

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a senator from Romney's home state of Massachusetts, noted that Romney's broadside came at an especially ill-chosen moment, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Washington. And he argued that in the process of scoring political points, Romney was actually helping Iran.

"This can’t become just another applause line on the Republican presidential stump," Kerry said in a lengthy Senate floor speech. "Talk has consequences, and idle talk of war only helps Iran by spooking the tight oil market and increasing the price of the Iranian crude that pays for its nuclear program."

Kerry argued that Romney's diatribe was especially bad because Romney ignored what Obama is already doing to reign in Iran, then suggested that Obama do those things. Among the steps that Kerry said Romney missed are increasing missile defense and securing nuclear materials around the globe.

"He calls for ever-tightening sanctions on Iran. What exactly is it that he thinks we’ve been doing for the past three years?" Kerry said, listing the growing string of sanctions against Iran.

"When you add it all up, Mitt Romney is just trying to ignore, twist, and distort the administration’s policy to drive a wedge in our politics," declared Kerry.

Although Kerry at points echoed the increasingly bellicose language coming from Capitol Hill lately, he argued that spewing falsehoods and feeding war fever is a recipe for failure.

"We’re going to have tough debates. We’re going to have a bruising election season. And so we should," Kerry said. "But let’s have an honest debate, not a contrived one.

"If we are to succeed as the American people want us to in order to avoid a nuclear Iran, then at some point we must all act like statesmen, not candidates," Kerry said. "We must be clear-eyed about what we have accomplished and what we have yet to do. That’s what Americans expect from their commander in chief, and they deserve no less."

Romney's op-ed also did not fare well with fact-checkers. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler rated it "two Pinocchios."

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.