Washington (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reaffirmed his commitment to Israel as America's partner in the Middle East while accusing President Barack Obama of hindering peace in the region, during his speech Wednesday before the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The former Massachusetts governor took the president to task for criticizing Israel, not saying enough about the thousands of Hamas rockets fired into the country and his support for Israel to adopt "indefensible borders."
"These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are posed to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table," Romney said at the forum in Washington, D.C. "President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East."
Romney said that as president he will warn other countries in the region that aggressive action against Israel will be "futile and that continuing it will cost them dearly."
Romney, who is making his second bid for the White House, is one of six potential GOP nominees to speak at the event Wednesday.
He also bashed Obama's support of an "entitlement society," where he said earnings are redistributed and disproportionately enjoyed by the government.
"President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. He has embraced an entitlement society. He has put America on a path toward decline," Romney said. "At stake is the prosperity we've worked so hard to achieve, and the future of great allies, like Israel."
Despite what Romney sees as Obama's failed first term in office, Romney said the 2012 election will be tough.
"Many think that because of his staggering failures, President Obama will be easily defeated," Romney said. "But an incumbent is rarely turned out of the White House, and class warfare and demagoguery can be powerful explanations in uncertain times."
The president's reelection team responded to Romney's speech, accusing Romney of "stacking the decks" against the middle class by adopting the same policies supported by Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Sarah Palin.
"Instead of believing that Americans are greater together, he believes the middle class and those fighting to enter it are on their own," Ben LaBolt, press secretary for Obama for America, said in a statement. "Mitt Romney has made abundantly clear that he's willing to outsource American jobs to enrich himself and his partners regardless of the consequences for middle class families."
Rival GOP presidential contenders Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota are also scheduled to speak to the group Wednesday. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was not invited to the event because of his views on Israel that the organization said are "extreme."
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