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. WIMPY38

    I'm glad Obama is not bowing and scrapping to Netanyahu. He's nothing but a war monger anyhow just to have an excuse to go to war. And what gets me is that THEY have nuclear weapons but don't want anyone else to have one. You better believe that if I ran a country, I'd do anything to level the playing field. Sure I don't want Iran to have nukes but who are we or Israel to say no one but us can only have nukes?!

    September 28, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Margo

    Go away Romney, you don't stand for anything solid. Depends on who you are talking to...you would have us at war with everyone.

    September 28, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    To quote (gag) Ann Romney "ShUT UP BiBi". Fight your own darn wars and leave us out of it.

    Stay out of our politics and don't try to dictate our foreign policy. He's ticked because Obama will not lick his boots.

    September 28, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. James PDX

    Romney will take any action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon? Looks like we'll be going to war again soon if Mitt wins.

    September 28, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. The fact is

    No more wars!

    September 28, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. truth hurts

    Hey GI Joe, one gets the feeling you'd prefer that Iran get a bomb and use it on Israel. A pretty accurate assessment of your position?

    September 28, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Lew

    I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
    And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
    It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall...

    I think Obama may actually play a role in saving the world from annihilation the spring of 2013. I think Romney will encourage a road to destruction. Another reason, although a sad one, that Obama's got my vote...

    September 28, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. js007

    Isreal already has nukes...if they think another war should be started over Iran maybe, perhaps, building one then they can fight their own battle. They are already making things difficult for the US by refusing to make peace with the Palestinians. Further, Netanyahu has been very disrespectful to Pres. Obama.

    September 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Paul

    Do it yourself Benjamin. The United States is tired of constantly being involved over there. Obama knows it, and Romney's not allowed to say it. If you haven't noticed, Romney seems to be in the minority. Don't be starting any trouble with the expectations of the US coming to bail you out. Obama is winning. Not Romney. Romney has no place making any statement relative to the intent of the United States. This is ridicuouls imo. He should be campaigning, not getting involved. Until voted in, he should not represent the United States. Send the weeper of the house; Boehner.

    September 28, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Mrs b

    This country is war weary and war poor. Much of our national debt is from the war in Iraq. History will tell us what we accomplished, if anything, with the war in Irag. The human cost was way too high. Can we please get back to some years of peace and quit rushing to the defense of Israel every time there is a threat? I just keep trying to understand why we can not have Arabs and Jews co-existing in the Middle East as they do in other parts of the world. I see no effort for real peace in the last decade. We, the US, can not fix it!

    September 28, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Sid

    why is romney making the phone call ?

    September 28, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Go Obama 2012

    Mitt the Twit is hoping to kiss the BiBi's ring if he wins. Maybe he should remember he is running for President of the United States and not a lap dog for Israel.

    September 28, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Jason

    Just like Nixon a treasonous traitor, verminous GOPER that gave money and arms to the Iranians for holding the hostages Robmey will ask Iran to attack Israel. This is the October surprise by the GOP Hope Obama is ready for it. Karl Rove was in the Dubai recently this is coming lie it or not.

    September 28, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Mr. Moderate

    Anybody else see the irony that the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons seems to get to decide who else to admit to the club?

    September 28, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. slason

    Why the heck is Romney talking with anyone diplomatically? He is nothing and he keeps embarrassing us abroad. Get this joker out of there.

    September 28, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Ferret out the BS

    At times the Israelis can be their own worst enemies, they are raising the level of fear to invoke international sanction to take aggressive action towards Iran and with this action bring the U.S. in due to agreements and treaties. The Republicans will go along with this willingly and will encourage it. However, at this stage of the game it is difficult to believe that Republicans have intelligence that is as timely and accurate as the president's and therefore the president is operating with better data at his disposal. The Republicans have also adopted a philosophy that it is better to attack and invade a country first and ask questions later, as evidenced with the Iraq attack and invasion. Looking at history since WW II, this policy has never brought about completely satisfactory results and has many in the global community seeing the U.S. as a big bully. Is this how we wish to be viewed? Is the sabre rattling no better than the despots that threaten other communities? The president has the right approach.

    September 28, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. freddie nerk

    If I was Iran I would now accelerate a nuclear weapon program because Israel threatens to attack. Iran should detonate a crude device to test its capabilities and that would lead to peace. The US and Soviets achieved peace when it was obvious they had reached equal destructive parity.

    September 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. rs

    I am surprised the GOP hasn't added this to Mr. Obama's ficticious "apology tour".

    September 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. rs

    truth hurts-
    So, how do we stop that? Unlike Romney- specifics.

    September 28, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. truth hurts

    All of our troops in Afghanistan will be well positioned for an early exit THROUGH IRAN!!

    September 28, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. ll

    Bibi has got a few sprockets loose.

    Time for a new prime minister that is actually interested in working FOR peace.

    September 28, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. StayWithIsrael

    Supporting Israel is the best thing for USA. There is no USA without Israel. The president won't understand that because he is not an AMerican to begin with.

    September 28, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Larry from d block

    read ur bible folks....those two (Isreal and palestine) would never agree...

    September 28, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. RPrentice

    Attacking Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay the inevitable. Even the Iranian *opposition* leaders support acquisition of nuclear weapons. There's nothing more dangerous than a theocracy with nuclear weapons and orders from Allah to destroy its enemies.

    September 28, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Pradd20

    Republicans and mittens are war hungry. Spend our money on war and leave us and our country poor.

    September 28, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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