Romney, Obama speak with Netanyahu
The White House released a photo of President Barack Obama speaking on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
September 28th, 2012
09:58 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney, Obama speak with Netanyahu

(CNN) - President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Friday, the day after the Israeli leader publicly urged the international community to draw a "clear red line" with Iran over its suspected nuclear development program.

The White House released a statement on the president's phone call shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Obama's call with Netanyahu was more than 20 minutes, according to a senior administration official.

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Romney spoke with the Israeli leader while in his motorcade, which was parked at the Philadelphia International Airport, around 1:30 p.m. ET, according to his campaign's traveling press secretary Rick Gorka.

A statement from the White House on the president's phone call said, "The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

"The Prime Minister welcomed President Obama's commitment before the United Nations General Assembly to do what we must to achieve that goal," the statement continued, referencing Obama's Tuesday address to the UNGA. "The two leaders took note of the close cooperation and coordination between the Governments of the United States and Israel regarding the threat posed by Iran – its nuclear program, proliferation, and support for terrorism – and agreed to continue their regular consultations on this issue going forward."

Romney told reporters after the call that the two "spoke about his assessment of where the red line ought to be drawn and my own views with regards to Iran." When asked if there was any difference between where he and Netanyahu would draw the red line, Romney said, "We did not go into enough, into the kind of detail, that would define precisely where that red line would be."

The candidate stated his belief that "there is a strategy that would lead us to preventing Iran from developing nuclear capability."

"I do not believe that in the final analysis we will have to use military action. I certainly hope we don't have to," he said. "I can't take that option off the table – it must be something which is known by the Iranians as a possible tool to be employed to prevent them from becoming nuclear. But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken."

Romney said he and Netanyahu talked about their last meeting, when Romney visited Israel, Great Britain, and Poland on an international trip this summer.

He said Obama had "moved over time" regarding his position on Iran, saying, "his words more recently are more consistent with the words I've been speaking for some time."

At his United Nations speech on Tuesday, Obama told world leaders "the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" and that a nuclear-armed Iran "is not a challenge that can be contained."

In his separate address, Netanyahu holding up a simple graphic of a bomb with a lit fuse used a red marker to draw a red line representing the point "before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a bomb."

Obama drew criticism earlier this week, especially from Romney, over his comments about tension between Israel and Iran. In a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday, Obama was asked if he felt pressure from Israel to change his policy and draw a line in the sand when it comes to Iran's nuclear program.

"When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people, and I am going to block out any noise that's out there," said Obama.

"Now I feel an obligation – not pressure but obligation – to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply," he continued. "They're one of our closest allies in the region and we've got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel's existence."

Romney's campaign quickly pounced, releasing a statement the same night saying Obama's "noise" comment was "the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East."

Critics also pounded Obama for not meeting in person with world leaders, including Netanyahu, while in New York for his U.N. speech this week. However, Obama did meet with President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen Tuesday when he dropped by a meeting between Hadi and John Brennan, the homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Obama.

Hadi also visited the White House on Thursday, but a senior administration official said the two presidents did not meet in person, CNN reported.

Netanyahu has ramped up his criticism in recent weeks of the international community's response to Iran, saying current targeted sanctions and diplomatic efforts are not enough. When he met with Romney in Israel in late July, Netanyahu said actions thus far have not "set back the Iranian program by one iota."

Obama and Netanyahu held a rare, hour-long phone conversation two weeks ago, as "part of their ongoing consultations," the White House said. The call followed reports that the White House had rejected a request by Netanyahu to meet with Obama this month to discuss Iran's nuclear program–reports that the White House strongly denied.

While Romney insists his Iran policy stands in stark contrast to that of Obama, Romney earlier this month conceded a rare comparison between himself and his opponent, saying the two would draw the same "red line" on nuclear weapons in Iran.

"My red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon. It is inappropriate for them to have the capacity to terrorize the world," Romney said on September 14 on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"Iran as a nuclear nation is unacceptable to the United States of America," Romney added.

The president has used almost identical language to describe the situation in Iran. When asked if the two would have the same "red line" going forward, Romney said "yes."

"And recognize that when one says that it's unacceptable to the United States of America that that means what it says. You'll take any action necessary to prevent that development, which is Iran becoming nuclear," Romney said.

– CNN's Ashley Killough, Rachel Streitfeld, Michael Martinez, Dan Lothian, and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012 • Benjamin Netanyahu • Iran • Israel • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    Sputnik and the assassination program of the Iranian scientists will delay the enrichment process. Netanyahu is a right winger who is making it look like their are tensions between the U.S. and Israel. On the other hand you've got Ehud Barak saying that President Obama has done more than his predecessors in regards to Israel's security. Netanyahu is Israel's John McCain who consistently pushes for war with Iran.

    September 28, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Wake up people!

    I'm just wondering where the story is about the firm in Florida, that was hired by the GOP and Willard, which had a history of voter suppression, getting caught doing the very same thing all over again. Of course the GOP threw them under the bus as soon as the story broke, you know kind of like Akin. The lame attempts to make Willard seem relevant are astounding.

    OBAMA 2012!

    Btw, President Obama needs to tell Netanhanyu and ROBMEY to sit down and shut up, he is the POTUS, not them!

    September 28, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East."

    So Mittens' version of "respect" for Israel is completely and utterly ignoring Ehud Barak, the current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister, who has publicly stated that Obama has done more for Israel's security than the past several presidents? Way to go Mittens. Nothing says "respect" like "I'm ignoring you because you're not saying what I awnt to hear."

    September 28, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    Wonder where that "bomb" illustration came from. My guess is Boris Badinoff, or maybe the Coyote ordered it from ACME for him.

    September 28, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    Badinov, not Badinoff!

    September 28, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Dolan

    Netanyahu is in a tough position. Obama will do his "best friend" play acting with Israel until the election is over and then go back to treating Netanyahu like a dog. Netanyahu can act on Iran now and have support until the election from Obama or wait to see who wins. If Obama wins it is not going to be good for Israel – thats a guarantee. We will get to see the real Obama again.

    September 28, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. mommytwice

    Why in the world would Romney be talking to any foreign head of state? He's nobody. He's not even a senator or congressman. He is NO ONE, so why would any head of state even want to speak to him?? He's just some guy running for president at this point and nothing more.

    September 28, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. Name

    This guy need to bud out from our election. Let Americans decide the destiny of the nation

    September 28, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. ThinkAgain: Mittens' 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    Will Mittens play for Netanyahu the video in which Mittens says about the Middle East:

    "So what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem....and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it."

    Just wondering ...

    September 28, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. rla

    Too bad that the candidate challenge has to shake the president out of his campaign to speak to our best ally in the Arab world– Thanks Romney!

    September 28, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. rla

    Oh by the way Mommeytwice- Romney will be the next president!

    September 28, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. MTG

    I'm with a lot of other people on this one....why in the hell would Romney be calling this guy?

    September 28, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Larry in Houston

    Hey NetinYahoo – What do you want us to do, huh ?? Do you want us to send Tanks to Isreal & Fighter Jets and an aircraft carrier so you guys can decide to "Bomb" Iran ? Don't you remember what we've done for you back in 1967 ? Huh ? Do You ? I'm not taking sides here, I'm Just tellin you the facts NetanYahoo. We sent you tanks / fighter jets – and every other means of warfare ( except our troops) back then, and guess what happened / You ended up re-drawing the Map, and ended up expanding Your Borders. So what do you want us to do This Time ? Bomb Them ? Bomb them for what ? ( "supposedly building a Bomb" ) ?? You're nuttier than a fruitcake. IF Iran decides to "bomb" anybody, believe me, all Obama (or whomever is our prez) has to do is bomb the heck out of Iran, to the point they will Retreat, Just like Iraq did, when they invaded Kuwait, under the bush regime. Obama has alreay Said that We've got your back. So don't get all uptight, and all bent out of shape, okay ?
    Vote Democrat – 2012 ( for the "working" middle class)

    September 28, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    BooBoo says jump. Flip says how high?

    September 28, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. Keep us all on our heels...

    I think Netanyahu said it best during his own speech when he said that for 15 years he has been warning about Iran and "the bomb" they are building. For 15 years he has said the bomb was less than a year away and for 15 years he has been wrong. His speech sounded like a call to war while using graphics from Wylie Coyote and Acme.. and the only person in the world who wants to go to war more than Netanyahu is Mitt.

    September 28, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Cam Spurgeon

    This guy doesn't belong in the middle of american Politics and should instead be worried about his own election next year.I totally support Isreal. BE BE is a thug. I would tell him to call back after the election . Hillary will brief me.

    September 28, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "Romney memo seeks to lower debate expectations"

    Is that why he's slithering on his belly?

    September 28, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Bessy

    @ mommytwice
    I have to agree with you. There is nothing this man won't do to try and bend people to his way of thinking. He just wants to create more problems for President Obama and he really doesn't care what problems he creates for our country. Please people, check out the statements of Ehud Barak, the current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister of Israel, who has publicly stated that Obama has done more for Israel's security than the past several presidents.

    September 28, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. ST

    Netanyahu should understand that he can not go there alone. If he decides to do so, let him face the consequences alone, and only alone. This man needs full support from US. He needs to beg US to support him. If he thinks that he can ignore the current admin and tries to look them down, they can show him also that they do not stand that standard he thinks they are!

    September 28, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. pinochled

    Obama's done a terrific job of rallying international support to isolate and punish Iran. Notice how Netanyahu thanked Obama in his address to the United Nations.

    September 28, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Name s kel

    I agree with mommytwice, romney is no foreign policy expert. Hes just some repeitive lier running for president so he can win a bet. I cant belive the people actually voting for this amature.

    September 28, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Jack

    I am an unwavering supporter of the state of Israel but no ally should ever dictate what our foreign policy should be. That is for us to decide and no one else.

    September 28, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. rs

    Dolan-
    Stop parroting nonsense- or else explain how in any way Mr. Obama has treated Mr. Netanyahu "like a dog".
    Look, if Israel wants a "line in the sand" (or a line on a bomb)-great. It isn't our role to save them- that is the role for a coalition-or perhaps the UN. We have quietly gone broke here in the good ol' USA letting crazy Republicans go to war in the Middle East with very dubious results. I doubt Mr. Romney's sabre rattling will turn out any better than the war in Iraq if he goes after Iran.

    September 28, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. judy

    romney and netanyahu where room mates at school togeather so you tell me whats going on.? Is netanyahu trying to help mitt win? Most isralies don't like netanyahus policies. So whats the deal.? The president is right. They don;t tell us what to do and we should not cave in to anything they want just because the tell us to. Forward 2012 Why should he be talking to him anyway???

    September 28, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  25. Pete

    Romney saying publicly I'd never say no to Bibi Netanyahu his old working buddy at Boston Capital if president.Well you're not president you nitwit and you don't have Netanyahu calling you night and day like a little wimp saying the skies are falling the skies are falling because of Irans idle threats!!He's not telling you he's scared and how's he's going to retaliate in kind without help if Pres.Obama doesn't do more,just what can he do he's already imposed sanctions didn't he and threatened other countries with them as well if they keep working with Iran right!!How about the chosen ones,the Netanyahu Jews of Isreal,are they above the law,are they actively making nuclear weapons and are they going against a nuclear treaty signed years ago by many countries including Russia,America and others,the Nuclear Weapons None Proliferation Treaty by Reagan,remember that !!Netanyahu has got to chill out,the Iranians know we have Isreals back and would most certainly lose a war against not just Isreal but America as well..So quit Romney with this Netanyahu butt kissing act,you're not presidencial,ya don't act presidencial and you'd react differently in these times ,so back off its not your place to ignorently interject,you have enough problems Romney just with your campaign alone so clean up your own messes before complaining stupidly about others!!

    September 28, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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