July 30th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney to Blitzer: Nuclear Iran is 'number one national security threat'

(CNN) – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney clarified his March remark that Russia is the nation's top foe, saying in an interview to air Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that Iran potentially poses the greatest national security threat to the U.S.

"The number one national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, speaking in Jerusalem about the nearby nation.

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Asked about Israel's borders, the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the London Olympics, and campaign finance, Romney offered little new policy or criticism of President Barack Obama.

"I'm on foreign soil, and because it's long been a policy of both political parties to leave politics at the water's edge, I'm not going to go through specific foreign policy prescription," he said in response to one question, echoing a similar caveat he affixed to other answers.

But Romney did clarify his comment last spring that Russia "is without question our number one geopolitical foe."

"I'm talking about most of the United Nations and actions of a geopolitical nature, Russia is the number one adversary in that regard," he said. "That doesn't make them an enemy. It doesn't make them a combatant. They don't represent the number one national security threat."

The candidate specifically cited Russia's role in Syria and in international sanctions, saying it "has been slow to move to the kinds of sanctions that have been called for in Iran.

"Russia is a geopolitical adversary but is not an enemy with a - you know, with… missiles being fired at one another and things of that nature," he said.

The GOP candidate stood by his position that the U.S. should "keep a military option available" to handle Iran, should diplomatic efforts and sanctions not "dissuade them from becoming a nuclear capability nation."

"I certainly hope that our military, under the direction of the president, has, in fact, prepared a whole series of contingency plans, not only to previous Iran from becoming nuclear but to respond were Iran to become more belligerent in its - in its efforts," Romney said.

The sanctions currently in place "could be, I'm sure, even more punitive."

Obama pointed to those efforts – including new sanctions aimed at the nation's banking and financial systems imposed this year – in a speech last week at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

"We're leading the fight against nuclear dangers," Obama said. "We've applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea - nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons."

The Obama administration has also stated that all options remain on the table when dealing with a potentially nuclear Iran.

Also in his interview, Romney said the capital of Israel is Jerusalem - a city at the center of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Romney declined to answer questions about what position he holds regarding borders in the search for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Asked if he saw the starting point as the borders which existed prior to the 1967 Six Day War, Romney demurred.

"I'm not being that specific. I'm saying that there will be borders that have to be negotiated and what the starting point is something which will be decided by the parties involved," he said. "What the ending point is will be decided by the parties involved."

The issue of Israeli settlements – which the U.S. has criticized – "is something that should be discussed in private by the American president and our allies," Romney said.

"When we show a diplomatic distance between ourselves and our ally, I think we encourage people who oppose that relationship to seek other means to achieve their ends," he added.

Romney and Blitzer sat for the interview at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday while the candidate was in the country on his foreign tour. He landed on Monday in Poland and was in London last week.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. when your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    actually there was once a time when the best way to get an economy out of the doldrums was to have a war. Those days are gone of course because we haven't had total peace in our country in over 10 years now. Mitt seems determine to make good use of those military dollars though if he can find somebody to attack.

    July 30, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. BLKMANinAmerica

    Romney is an idiot.

    July 30, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Frankie

    Oh just wait, his position may change again.

    July 30, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. John

    Him praying at the wailing wall with the headpiece on was the "phonyist" picture I have ever seen.....A buck he wasn't praying unless it was for divine intervention to make him stop doing and saying such stupid things.

    July 30, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    I do not agree that Iran is our No. 1 threat to national security. Our $16 trillion and growing national debt with no plan to stop it or turn it around is our No. 1 threat to national security. At least with Iran we are capable of fighting back.

    July 30, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Lemone

    What an IDIOT!

    July 30, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. rrd

    Rudy NYC

    Hmmph. Didn't he say just a couple of months or so ago that Russia was the "greatest threat to our national security"?
    ------------------–
    No he didn't . He said Russia is a geopolitical adversary. Read the whole report.

    July 30, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. sftommy

    Mitt embraces Israel and alienates every other ethnicity in the region.

    Is Mitt promising another war in he region for America's future?
    Like our last GOP President?
    Only this time with a nuclear capable power?

    Think more Mitt before you start something ugly, really, really ugly!

    July 30, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. apple pie

    A wimp who dodged military service has no business rattling sabers.

    July 30, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Patriot Awesome

    Seems like Mitt is out to start a war whether he gets elected or not.

    July 30, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. g

    the republican war economy allways leaves america with huge debt and body bags

    July 30, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. John

    Much like his father and 5 sons, Mitt refused to serve and even "dodged the draft"....and now he wants to invade Russia, Syria, Iran, Palestine, and China..............Is there a name for someone who refuses to fight, but wants our country to fight anyone and everyone who does not agree with us?...............coward is the word that comes to mind............

    July 30, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Tree

    He sounds like DICK CHANEY.......what a joke. War what is it go for.....NOTHING

    July 30, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. sahara

    This is Mitts Mouth and Foot disease, he can say anything to win election as long as it pleases a particular audience he is addressing

    July 30, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. sayer

    I thought Mitt said Russia was enemy #1?

    July 30, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    He said Russia was before he said Iran is. Sheesh. Mr. Flip? Meet Mr. Flop.

    July 30, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. rs

    Mr. Romney- the biggest threat to whom? Certainly NOT the United States (Hello? ever hear of Pakistan?). You are just playing the GOP Iraq WMD card. Sir, if you want war so badly go to Afghanistan. Otherwise, your pronouncements are tripe.

    July 30, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. rs

    Actually, I thought the GOP was our number 1 threat...

    July 30, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Not Being That Specific

    Romney declined to answer questions about what position he holds regarding __________ <-- FILL IN BLANK WITH ANY SUBJECT. "I'm not being that specific."

    Yep. Thanks for clarifying.

    July 30, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. rrd

    apple pie

    A wimp who dodged military service has no business rattling sabers.
    -----------------------------–
    And when did Obama serve?

    July 30, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "I do not agree that Iran is our No. 1 threat to national security. Our $16 trillion and growing national debt with no plan to stop it or turn it around is our No. 1 threat to national security. At least with Iran we are capable of fighting back."

    That's because Iran is an outside threat. The solutions to the debt and deficit issues are pretty simple, straightforward and well known, but the plutocrats who won't allow us to implement them are an inside threat. It's much harder to show that their world-class self-serving use of money to buy our policies in their favor is an existential threat to the nation and our society than it is to point at a country full of brown people who talk different and believe different things than us that most of us find hard to understand and scream "oooga boooga boooga they want to eat your babies!!!" This is much harder to do to people from your own country, even though the reality is that they would indeed eat our babies if that is what was required to assure them continued codification in our laws of their exalted, privileged status and myriad advantages over the middle-class.

    July 30, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    ""I'm on foreign soil, and because it's long been a policy of both political parties to leave politics at the water's edge, I'm not going to go through specific foreign policy prescription," "

    Frankly, I would not be the least bit suprised to see him stay there until November so he can continue using that excuse to avoid saying anything even remotely specific about his supposed policies.

    July 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. MikeB

    The number one National security threat is actually Obama and his Globalist Faction.

    July 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. tammyk tammy

    The Iranians will be chanting 'We're Number One, We're Number One' while they hold up their middle fingers at a burning US flag and they won't be talking about a victory at the Olympics. Thank a lot Mittens for bringing the world together in peace and harmony once again.

    July 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. HomeSweetHome

    Well at least Romney is now in the 21 Century. A few month a ago he was saying another country was I greatest threat.

    Question is, why is he trying to pick a fight? He has no intention of fighting nor any of his sons and the American People are tired of fighting Reps Wars. I guess someone needs to tell him this.

    July 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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