Israel re-enters focus ahead of Romney trip
July 22nd, 2012
04:26 PM ET
6 years ago

Israel re-enters focus ahead of Romney trip

(CNN) - America's relationship with Israel, always reliable for campaign rhetoric, will come under renewed examination this week when presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney heads to the country as part of his foreign swing.

The visit to Israel will present an opportunity and a challenge for Romney, who has consistently expressed support for the country but has not yet outlined specific plans for key issues in the region, including negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians and dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

Advisers to the candidate said last week the trip would not be used to advance any new proclamations of policy or criticize President Barack Obama for his dealings with Israel, but rather to showcase a "locking of arms" with Israeli leaders.

Romney's campaign hopes that show of support will play well among Jewish voters in the United States, as well as pro-Israel evangelicals who Romney struggled to court during the GOP primaries. And while Romney's campaign said the candidate will not draw explicit contrasts between his positions and Obama's while abroad, his presence in Israel will draw attention to Obama's sometimes-shaky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Romney will meet.

The former Massachusetts governor, who last traveled to Israel in January 2011, has had a long relationship with Netanyahu since they worked together at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he would greet Romney in much the same style as he greeted Obama when he traveled to Israel as a candidate in July 2008.

"I'll tell him about Israel's desire for peace, and also about Israel's concern with the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons, unfortunately, still with us four years later," Netanyahu said on CBS.

On Fox News, the Israeli prime minister said Obama's past statements on Israel largely aligned with his own views, but that actions, not words, were of greater importance.

"The jury is out on all of us, because the real thing, the real question is not stated policy but actual results on the ground," Netanyahu said.

One of Romney's top surrogates on Sunday declared U.S.-Israel relations at their worst under Obama, citing decisions that he said destroyed trust between the two nations.

"Everybody knows that relations with Israel have never been worse, beginning with the demands for a freeze settlement back at the beginning of the Obama administration," Arizona Sen. John McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."

He continued, telling CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley: "The president sends his national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Israel to tell them not to attack Iran, thereby weakening Israel. The relations have never been worse. And, again, it is a lack of trust on the part of the Israelis about what the United States of America will or will not do."

The tough words from McCain are hardly new for the Romney campaign. The candidate himself said at a Republican presidential debate in January that Obama "threw Israel under the bus" for suggesting a future Palestinian state be based on borders that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

"I think he has time and time again shown distance from Israel, and that has created, in my view, a greater sense of aggression on the part of the Palestinians. I will stand with our friend, Israel," Romney said at the CNN sponsored debate.

Since then, however, Romney has spoken only in broad strokes about a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying on his website that he would "reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians." He also writes he would reduce U.S. assistance to the Palestinians if they form a government that includes Hamas, the Islamist militant group.

On Iran, Romney has used tough language, but has yet to say definitely whether he would use the U.S. military to try and stop the country's nuclear program. Western powers fear that Iran may be trying to build nuclear weapons despite its insistence that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Romney hit Obama's record on Iran at an evangelical Christian conference in June, saying, "He's almost sounded like he's more frightened that Israel might take military action than he's concerned that Iran might become nuclear."

The tough rhetoric from Romney drew a response from Obama's re-election team, which issued a statement listing important steps taken by the Obama administration to bolster relations with Israel while slamming the Republican candidate for attempting to "score cheap political points by distorting President Obama's record of support for Israel."

"Our relationship with Israel is too important for Gov. Romney to play politics with it," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote.

Filed under: 2012 • Iran • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. easyrhino

    "Our relationship with Israel is too important for Gov. Romney to play politics with it," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote.


    US citizens are losing their homes and forgoing health insurance all the while the US Fed-Gov sends $3,000,000,000 US tax-payer dollars to Israel so their citizens can maintain their life style.

    Israel is a huge net lose for the USA and we should cut them loose ASAP!

    July 22, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. bear

    He is so out of touch he will ask an advisor what are those funny hats they are wearing.

    July 22, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. T'sah From Virginia

    Romney – remember – there is only ONE president at a time.

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    July 22, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. Chipster

    It doesn't matter what Romney would do. He will refuse to take responsibility for any of it. What the heck is 'retroactive retirement," anyhow? Arlen Specter said, 'Mitt Romney Has Changed Positions More Often Than A Pornographic Movie Queen.' But really, that doesn't matter because he won't take responsibility for any of them. He's like a child who always points to someone else and says, "Not me, He did it!" Please! We need President Obama but more than that – we need a Democratic Congress!!! Vote, Vote, Vote! And Willard: I won't apologize for this.

    July 22, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. Anne P

    Ole Mittens will no doubt come away with a gigantic brown nose after this trip.

    July 22, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  6. Rick

    Actually, Romney has much more experience in foreign affairs than Palin did in '08. Whereas he may not be able to see any foreign countries from any of his multimillion dollar mansions, he has lots of international experience with where to hide his money and to send American jobs.

    July 22, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Bootstomper

    I say send him to Syria along with McCain and leave them there.

    July 22, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. DLDeahn

    Rommey Vs.Palin For.policy! Sarah wins in a walk! I am a Obama Democrat! The President wins by 7 points!

    July 22, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |

    Please. Team Romney is waffling on Romney's credentials because he has none, and unlike Candidate Obama in 2008, Romney's fall back position is to regurgitate GOP party talking points. You want to win, Romney? Pontificate your own positions. That is, if the Koch brothers, or Rush, or whoever pulls yours strings, lets you.


    July 22, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Holla

    It's almost over before it's over. Nov. is still approaching gradually. After that, Romney would actually get it that money can't buy American people. Obama 2012 ,the only way forward.

    July 22, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. packerfans

    Vote for Mitt Romney who can save America!!! Possilbe Save World too!!

    July 22, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. Donkey Party

    Benjamin Netanyahu is a radical right-wing extremist. It doesn't play to his base to show unity with a Democrat President. However, it does show his hypocrisy in that he'll come hat in hand to the US for financial and military support, but like every right-winger, he doesn't understand the word "compromise", and he is not serious about finding a peaceful solution to Israel's problems in the Middle East.

    July 22, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What actions does Romney plan on doing really? I don't think that he'll be much different.

    July 22, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  14. Morning1Su

    Tell Romney to keep his mouth shut and get out of Dodge. He plays around with the lives of our children and grandchildren and not his own. America don't vote for this horrible person. He will put the US in another war which will not be paid for and blame the Democrats for the deficit. President Obama is trying to keep peace and strengthen our eonomy. Republicans got us into unnecessary wars, reduced our surplus and put us in horrible debt and they got their stinken nerve to blame President Obama for everything. Right now the Republican Congress is blocking all the initiatives the President is trying to pass to help the American people, and there are those out there that are going to vote Republican? Republicans you can change party afilliation. No one is holding you down for voting your concience. That is why I am an Independent. I vote for who I please and who is the better candidate for the people. President Obama shows intelligence and poice. He does not act before he think things through. Get out and vote everyone. We can't allow any more Republicans to dictate our lives. Vote Republicans out of office.

    July 22, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  15. degazmatic

    I am fearful of romney. I fear anybody who thinks that they would rule their own planet after death. He only incites hatred from foreigners. Under bush everybody hated america. Under obama noone speaks bad about america. Not even cuba. Although they still blame the embargo for everything. With romney castro and chavez are going crazy.

    July 22, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. Karm99

    President Obama has done more positive things in the Middle East in 3 1/2 years than Bush did in 8 years.

    Romney is just another Bush, so what would we have to look forward to, another war.........

    July 22, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. M.Otero

    We can put our hands in our pockets and close our eyes just as we did at the 1935 start of the Spanish Civil War and gave Hitler the go sign. 'Same idea here. It's the naive peace mongers who invite the disequilibrium of war every time. We may all want peace, but we must always be ready for war. That's axiomatic.

    July 22, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. Expat American

    Israel re-enters focus ahead of Romney trip
    Well, of course it does.

    July 22, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  19. Brian Dodge

    Looking for more opportunities to outsource – jobs, foreign policy, wars on terrorism – you know the drill. Make a few megabucks, leave someone else holding the bag.

    July 22, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  20. WeR4Freedom

    Romney all the way!!! 2012/2016

    July 22, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Smoke and mirrors !

    Mitt's trip to Israel is more about international banking laws .

    Ask casino mogul Sheldon Adelson .

    July 23, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. Sirned

    Romney = more wars

    July 23, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. BeverlyNC

    Why is Romney in Israel or any other country of our Allies? He does NOT represent our nation in any official role. He is nothing but a tourist, ignorant and embarrassing, about these countries, their leaders, their issues, and our foreign policy efforts with them. None of their leader should agree to meet with him. Romney has no clue on the issues in our nation so how can he do anything but make a fool of himself in foreign nations he knows nothing about? He has the worst campaign team ever – except the ones who picked Palin for McCain.

    July 23, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  24. TheVoice

    "but has not yet outlined specific plans for key issues in the region" – just like the rest of his policy on other matters. Oh wait, he's taken multiple stands on a number of them. Somehow between the flip flopping and lack of specific plans, he will make this country better. If you believe that, I have a bridge to nowhere I can sell you.

    July 23, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Its amazing that this is said to be about Romney and all the rmarks are those of other Republicans or Soorgates and the Romney capmpaign laughably says it not Policy trip or statement.
    The real reson for the latter campaign staff comment is that if he repeated for Romney aal he has said about Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Syria or libya he would be clearly shown as the amateur he really is on foreign policy and diplomacy. going to Israel is vote grabbing and not taking the opportunity to talk to Palestinians and Egypt further demonstrates a lack of understanding of the middle east.

    July 23, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
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