As was his habit, he had studied the issue. So meticulously crafted was the language he used to frame his foreign policy views about Russia that it wasn’t happenstance that he referred to Moscow as the greatest geopolitical “foe” and not greatest geopolitical something else.

Lanhee Chen, Romney’s top policy advisor from the 2012 campaign, explained it to me in a telephone interview from Palo Alto, California, where he works as a Hoover Institution fellow and Stanford University professor.

“Gov. Romney was very careful with his words,” he said. “He chose the term ‘geopolitical foe’ deliberately, because he wanted to differentiate the challenge posed by Russia from other significant national security threats, like radical Islamic terror or North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The phrase ‘geopolitical foe’ was meant to evoke a game of Chess, where an opponent is trying to counteract or block every move you make. That’s what he was trying to convey by characterizing our relationship with Russia in that way.”