Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday called Russia a top "enemy" of the U.S., using language similar to and even stronger than a description used by Mitt Romney in 2012, which drew mockery from Democrats.
"I ask my Republican colleagues to put country over party when it comes to Russia," Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.
"The administration seems hesitant to enforce new sanctions, and has even hinted at relaxing existing sanctions on what has always been probably our most formidable enemy along with ISIS: Russia and Putin," he added.
In 2012, Romney, who would soon become the Republican presidential nominee, called Russia the "number one geopolitical foe" of the U.S.
"This is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe," he said. "They fight every cause for the world's worst actors."
In a debate later that year, Romney's comment was mocked by Obama.
"The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because… the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama said.
Democrats generally took a tougher line on Russia over the last several years, when Russia began acting against U.S. interests in Syria, much to the frustration of the Obama administration. Democrats also turned up their criticism of Russia when the U.S. intelligence community determined that Russia backed the effort to hack into Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.
Schumer also accused the Trump administration of failing to criticize Russia in its first few weeks in office.
"This administration has shown a disquieting reluctance to criticize Russia when it flouts international norms and laws," he said.
Trump has downplayed the tension between the U.S. and Russia, in what he said is an effort to repair the relationship and work together on a strategy to fight the Islamic State. Over the weekend, for example, Trump downplayed the idea that Putin is a "killer," by saying over the weekend that "we've got a lot of killers."
But several high-level Trump administration officials have taken a harsh line against Russia. On Feb. 2, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Russia's actions in Ukraine demand "clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions."
At her confirmation hearing, she said of the Russians, "I don't think that we can trust them."
"I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia," she added.
On Jan. 31, Trump's State Department said Russia was trying to take another Ukrainian city.
On Jan. 12, Defense Secretary nominee Jim Mattis said that while the U.S. and Russia should cooperate when possible, the U.S. "must confront Russia's behavior and defend ourselves if Russia chooses to act contrary to our interests."
And on Jan. 10, State Department nominee Rex Tillerson told senators that, "Russia today poses a danger."