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. Wake up people!

    @Jason, I couldn't agree more.

    OBAMA 2012!

    September 28, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. BD70

    So why is Romney making the phone call? He hasn't been elected. Or is it he can lick this guys boots and hopefully get elected. No more wars!@

    September 28, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Spokes

    Go away Nothing-you-who leave the world to be in peace. And quit meddeling in the US election....save you silly dramatization of your ill will...

    September 28, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. John

    So Obama is finally go to speak to Netanyahu? Now that Netanyahu is coming out and letting people know how much
    Obama has ignored Israel while giving aid to the Muslim Brotherhood and ignoring the events in Libya.

    September 28, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Loren M Roberts

    We don't need some Prime Minister from any where tell us US to draw a red line, for a war. We give them 5 B a year . Which
    we should pull some or all back. There a lot of area we can use this in the USA.

    Loren(Akron Ohio)

    September 28, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. SC

    Why is Romney so disrespectful to our President. He is not the President.

    September 28, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Mammy

    Let Iran and Israel destroy each other like all colored people do anyway.

    September 28, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. Chuk

    I'm so sick of that clown Netanyahu. He can take his silly chart and go back to Israel. Why is that everytime Israel snizzes, America catches a cold? Who's the superpower anyway?

    Israel should put up or shut up. They want to bomb Iran, go for it. As long as they own up to it instead of trying to pressure someone else to do it's fighting.

    September 28, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Mitt

    Hi everyone...hey, does anyone think I still have a chance?
    Should I start making up more lies?

    Let me know...thanks

    September 28, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. HomeSweetHome

    This is one of the many reasons I would never vote for Romney.

    Romney does not understand that we can only have one POTUS at a time.

    If Romney were to win we would have the repeat of the last administration and find ourselves in another war.

    No thank you.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 28, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Maria

    I do not understand why Romney is calling any official from another country. He is NOT our President!!! Out of line!!!

    September 28, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Jon Galt

    1PercentRevolution is coming!
    Right Makes Might – Stand And Fight!
    Every year Israel receives billions of American tax payer dollars which could have gone to help citizens in the USA. Each election our political candidates must travel to Israel to gain approval and funding donations. They are allowed to have dual citizenship, which allows them to easily buy off our election process while splitting their allegiance to a foreign country. They have developed nuclear and chemical weapons without signing treaties which are required to be eligible for any US funding/aid. Their implementation of an apartheid control of Palestine places our country in danger because it is linked directly to our military support. Every day they illegally occupy Palestine they expose the USA to danger, conflict, and terrorism.
    To be fair and to uphold our belief in liberty and justice for all, the USA should implement the last/only United Nations resolution which defined the boundaries of Palestine and Israel (UN resolution 181). Palestinians have the same right to exist as do Israelis (neither is superior). All financial aid and support to Israel should end until they stop their illegal occupation. The money saved should be invested in making Palestine a viable independent state not dependent on or controlled by Israel (ie develop sea ports, airports, border crossings, etc.). All settlements built on occupied land should be considered a donation/gift which can not be destroyed when justice prevails.
    It may also be the case that Israel intentionally helped mislead the USA into attacking Iraq when they knew there were NO weapons of mass destruction because they wanted the USA to be their free army where our soldiers are sacrificed for their gain.
    So, YES there should be a red line drawn immediately. No more funding or support of Israel until they change!
    Carpe Diem!

    September 28, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. kvinch

    Why the hell is Romney allowed to speak to any foreign leader - he is NOTHING now (and never will be) - the way he puts his foot in his mouth, he could cause a war to happen before the election, which is what the repugs would love!!

    September 28, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. nocas

    Romney is not the president, he should stay out of it, I don't understand what he is doing by placing this call!! Bibi is a bully, 1/2 his country do not like him or support him but american people has to do what he wants??!!! Excuse me??!! President Obama is doing very well, his consern has to be the american people, which he is president of, not people from isreal. And the ones that keep criticizen Obama on this, why are you here in america and not in israel in the military, that would be an help for them, Why do you want others to suffer in a war when you are here in america safe full of words, but war zone...no thank you?!! Cowardness?!! Shame on you! The president has been doing a lot to keep israel safe, so stop the lies and the hipper craziness when you don't have the courage to go there and fight!

    September 28, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Obama "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,"

    Romney calls that: "the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East."

    Maybe mitts is running for leader of the wrong country.

    When did putting Israel ahead of the USA become a right-wing value in our country?

    September 28, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    @Lew "I think Obama may actually play a role in saving the world from annihilation"

    I think not:
    - keeping Gitmo active (broken promise)
    - drone bombing, 1000's dead
    - sending death to Libya to protect OIL
    - threatening to attack Iran "if needed"
    - continued US torture options

    Vote Green Party for Peace – power to the people.

    September 28, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. The fact is

    Red line means war. Do we set a red line so carelessly? Give me a break!

    September 28, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. shell517nj

    It looks like Romney wants to shine the light on his so called close friendship with Netanyahu. Although I don't understand why he is speaking to him at all, Romney needs to remember decisions made should be in the best interest of the United states. f@ this buddy crap. relationships like this may only compromise a decision one may have to make one day. God help us if Romney's gets elected. Vote Obama.!

    September 28, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. BlueDem1

    Well, I'm sure that was a real pleasant conversation!

    September 28, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. WoW

    Hard to imagine how many of you still think Obama is such a wonderful POTUS. You havent seen enough of his cronies getting tax payer money? You enjoy watching scandals like Fast and Furious, Bengazi, and Solyndra? Oh, maybe you like being lied to every single day? How are those unemployment numbers and gas prices looking for you people? Median middle class income down, house prices down, inflation up, defecit sky rocketing, Senate Dem's havent passed a budget in over 3 years now... Dear God, you people need to wake up.

    September 28, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Romney is GRTANDSTANDING and If he thinks he"ll EVER live in the WH he's sadly mistaken.

    September 28, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Padraig

    I am very surprised Obama met with him instead of flying off someone politicking like before. In short with Obama at the helm Ireal needs to be prepared for the worse.

    September 28, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Gerard Winters

    While Prime Minister Netanyahu is trying to give an ultimatum to Ahmadinejad he is also giving an ultimatum to President Obama. He is saying to Obama, “Draw a red line on Iran or you will lose the Jewish vote.” This ultimatum shouldn’t come from an ally. This is a time when Americans are trying to elect a president who will be best for our country and our problems, not a time for Netanyahu to sway the results of our Presidential election for his interests.

    September 28, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. don in albuquerque

    Elect the Mitt-Witt and go ahead, start World War III. Just ask yourself, do I feel lucky, well do ya' punk? Then make my day. Why is the Mitt Witt involved in this any way? As if he has not already been fanning the flames of violence over there.

    September 28, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. gj2001

    I'm sure WMR reminded him of his years of experience in the acquisition and turn around of distressed property.

    September 28, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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