July 29th, 2012
01:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney talks tough on Iran

Jerusalem (CNN) - Warning that a nuclear-capable Iran would lead to war, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday pledged to support “any and all measures” to keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

During what his campaign billed as a major foreign policy speech in Jerusalem, Romney said he hoped economic and diplomatic steps would deter the Islamic republic from pursuing the ability to develop nuclear weapons - but “no option should be excluded.”

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“It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war,” he said. “The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.”

Standing with the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem as a backdrop, Romney said the Iranian clerical leadership is “testing our moral defenses.” But he added, “We recognize Israel's right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.”

"My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: We will not look away, and nor will my country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel," he said on a day that included meetings with Israeli leaders expressing concern about Iran.

Romney also referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a matter on which the United States has long kept its policy intentionally vague.

"It's a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel," Romney said, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

Jerusalem is among the “final status” issues left to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future independent state. A U.S. law passed in 1995 designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and stipulates the American embassy should move to the city from Tel Aviv. The past three presidents, however, have signed waivers suspending the law, citing security and diplomatic concerns.

The muscular speech comes after a bruising week for Romney, who irked British leaders when he appeared to question London's readiness to host the Olympic Games. Romney aides have barely touched on the diplomatic controversy since leaving London.

Among those attending the speech included wealthy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated $10 million to a pro-Romney super PAC, despite backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the GOP primaries. Asked what he thought of the speech, Adelson gave a thumbs-up.

Without explicitly criticizing President Barack Obama on foreign soil, Romney also attempted to draw contrasts with Obama's foreign policy.

"With much of Middle East in tumult, with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America's vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical. Whenever security of Israel most in doubt - America's commitment to Israel must be most secure," he said.

In a briefing with reporters Sunday morning, Dan Senor, Romney's foreign policy spokesman, said Romney is not advocating war with Iran, only making clear what the options are should diplomacy fail.

"The governor believes that at this point, the only thing that could focus and force the minds of the Iranian leadership on ending their nuclear weapons, their path to a nuclear weapons capability, is the belief that the alternative is far worse," Senor said.

In a sign the White House is keeping close tabs on Romney's overseas trip, an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, is reporting the Obama administration has informed Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a "contingency plan" to attack Iran should the nation develop nuclear weapons.

The Iran threat, along with the all-but-dead Middle East peace process, and the growing instability in Syria are among the expected topics Romney will address in closed-door meetings with Netanyahu and other Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

During a brief photo opportunity, Netanyahu seconded Romney's tough talk on the Iranian regime.

"Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more," Netanyahu said.

"We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. And that's why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation," he added.

The Israeli prime minister also acknowledged his decades-long friendship with Romney that dates back to when the two young men worked for a Boston consulting firm in the 1970's. "We were so young then. And for some reason, you still look young," Netanyahu remarked.

"We do have a friendship which spans the years," Romney added.

The exchange of pleasantries stood as a stark contrast with the cool relationship between Netanyahu and Obama.

Later Sunday, Romney also discussed the situation in front of reporters with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who warned against Iran becoming a nuclear power and argued the country "wants to dominate the Middle East."

While he agreed with the U.S. decision to impose harsh economic sanctions against Iran, Peres said "in order to make it serious," it needs to be clear "that all other options are on the table."

In addition to Peres and Netanyahu, Romney met with Kadima Party Leader Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Before his speech, Romney also sat down for a series of interviews with U.S. broadcast and cable networks, including CNN.

In the morning briefing with reporters, Senor explained Romney supports a "two-state solution" for both Israelis and Palestinians in securing a path to peace in the Middle East.

But Senor added Palestinians and other Arab nations would have to understand such a resolution "represents the end of the conflict."

"There should be no right of return," Senor said.

"This is not a platform for new Palestinian refugees down the road to return to Israel. If there is a Palestinian state, that should be the home for Palestinians wanting to return to this region."

Filed under: 2012 • Benjamin Netanyahu • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Shawn Irwin

    The United states has been infected with the same disease Israel has . . . . they always have to have a bogieman. With Israel, their bogieman is the Nazis, even though Israel has become like its own bogieman, the Nazi's . . . The Nazi's were all about acquiring "lebensraum", and that is what Israel is all about. They do not want to build up, they want to build out, and do so at every opportunity they can get. Pretty soon they will be tearing down their own walls so they can move them out more. As the Nazi's were highly racist, so too is Israel . . . . just take a look at their entry and citizenship requirements, if you are jewish, you are their best buddy, but it not your a scion. Also, an Arab married to an Israeli finds it nearly impossible to gain citizenship, and will most likely be kicked out of the country.
    The USA always has to have a bogieman to perpetuate the wars for profit and to serve the needs of the politicians.
    The politicians want to make it look like they have some b*lls, even though they never have, it is just compensation for what they do not have . . . . I have never seen one of our politicans on the front lines doing battle . . . .
    As for Iran, getting involved in a war with Iran will be the worse mistake any tin horn Washington Idi*t ever did. Iran is no Iraq or Afghanistan. The have modern guided missles, and do not forget, they now have our predator technology too. Not only that, Russia and China are both heavily involved in Iran, and both already feel slighted over the handling of the Syrian affair. Add to that the fact that not to long ago, the Russians and the Chinese got together and signed an agreement of mutual defense. Any attach on Iran will be very costly.
    I am no supporter of Obama though, quite frankly, I think we are scr**ed regardless of which of the two get elected, and, we will end up in a war with Iran, simply because the idi*ts in Washington just do not know when to stop.

    July 29, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  2. brian

    About time someone has balls!!

    July 29, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  3. luckyone4

    This guy Willard claimed to be a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. He ran around France knocking on doors for the Mormon church. Now he want's to lead our armed forces. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time accepting a coward sending my kids off to die.

    July 29, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  4. hiruu

    ...And when Iran reacts...what will this clown do then?

    July 29, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. babooph

    Was he "talking tough" in Paris ,while his peers ,without his connections ,were in Nam ?Chicken hawks love to send others to back up their cowardly mouths...

    July 29, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. SKS

    Any one remembers the 2002 and 2003 WMD in Iraq hysteria by the Bush Administration? See what happened 10 years down the road? Mitt, think twice on such speculative wars, other wise America is going to be in for another one again.

    July 29, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  7. LMB

    Negotiations with the likes of Iran, should always be made from a position of strength. I agree with Romney. If we are weaklings we'ill never get anything close to what we want – lasting peace in the region.

    July 29, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  8. luckyone4

    When Mitts time to go to War came he was opposed to War. Now He's all for it. This guy flip flops on everything. He has no shame.

    July 29, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |

    Mitt Romney wants Iran bombed so bad that he doesn't care who does it. (as long as his five sons aren't involved of course) so when you decide to pull that lever for Mitt this fall get ready for another war someplace.

    July 29, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  10. Alex

    Another pointless war in the middle east would be nice, perhaps one or two of Romney's sons will enlist to share the burden. NOT.

    July 29, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. pookyg

    More war, Mitt? Send your 5 boys this time.

    July 29, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  12. No More Wars

    We don't need another expensive war, let alone a nuclear war with Iran.

    This is just one more reason NOT to vote for Romney.

    July 29, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  13. brian

    talk about one sided board

    July 29, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. Marie MD

    And his point is?
    Nobody tells Israel what to do. They have done very well, thank you, on their own.
    Your years of knowing Netanyahu still doesn't give you foreign experience, you idiot. And it's NOT going to help your foreign experience as it seems you picked Israel because you know somebody there.
    Sort of like the papa john's pizza friend of yours with his mansion, pool and golf course for a backyard. I would rather have woods (like we do) than dodge errant balls (which you don't have) all day.

    July 29, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  15. snowdogg

    So, we get no details about Romney's proposed economic or social programs – but he's sure to involve the USA in another mid-east conflict? A loser.

    July 29, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  16. samonrusty

    One tiny colonial country on the edge of the Mediterranean has complete control over the U.S. They can order 300 million people to war whenever they want to. Is that really democracy? Adelson gives 100 million to Gingrich to say there is no such thing as Palestinian people; now he gives another 100 million to Romney to say " bomb Iran".

    July 29, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. Lucky18

    Romney will ge this country into a war with Iran immediately...He's Cheney all over again...
    Same coward!!!

    July 29, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  18. SafeJourney

    Mitt says lets go to war with Nukes. That is what mitt means by respect. Mitt says blow up the planet

    July 29, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  19. Rhonda Rahn

    Romney wants us in yet another expensive war. The GOP are war mongers.

    Yet, Romney was a draft dodger during Vietnam and his sons serve our country by "working on his campaign."

    He doesn't send his sons to be killed yet he wants to send mine.

    July 29, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. JustWho

    Just who does he think he is? Trying to get US in a war to please Israeli Jews?

    July 29, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. Shayne Caldeira

    The world has seen enough of bloodshed in the last many years, it would be much appreciated if all disputes could be reached an amiable solution through talks rather than rattling about war. Politicians are never on the front line they just call the shots, its the soldiers and civilians to take the brunt of it. Think about it.

    July 29, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  22. Patricksday

    Its easy to talk like a Tough Guy when you have never served a day of your life in the Armed Forces, but instead flee to France to avoid your duties as the average person had to do. As a President you should be Transparent and not have off shore banks to protect your great Wealth. Romney will loose in November to President Obama by his own deceptions and secrets against the American People and the United States.

    July 29, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  23. john smith

    Will Mitt support giving away free stuff to the farmers in drought ridden states "mostly red states"?

    July 29, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  24. Djshay12

    I'm curious as to why BiBi told Vanity Fair that he and Romney had "no particular connection" just a couple of weeks ago and now they are BFFs since the 70s

    July 29, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  25. chaps king

    There are no words to describe the level of insanity and irresponsibility of this President of Cayman Islands.

    July 29, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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