July 30th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 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. cali girl

    I just hear blah blah blah. Go ask the heads of security from the US. Better yet, go get your bike and go to France and ride to your hearts contend.

    July 30, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. 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"?

    July 30, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. American People

    The number one threat is an American President that off-shored jobs and is tax evader with off-shore accounts.

    July 30, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. sonny chapman

    Like so many War-Mongering Repubs., Mitt confuses the Security of Israel w/the Security of America. I guess they just LOVE WAR;especially when they've skipped it themselves & their kids don't have to do the dying, maiming, & PTSD deal. P.S.-Repub. Congressman Walter Jones, N.C. is excluded.

    July 30, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. PTNY

    Of course!

    July 30, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Wake up people

    Shouldn't the headline read.......

    If Robmey is elected, whom do we invade first?? Russia or Iran??

    I wonder if either of his sons or grandsons plan on enlisting??

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 30, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. GonzoinHouston

    Another audience, another flip-flop. I guess if he ever speaks in Beijing he will declare Taiwan the #1 threat to security.

    New event for the Olypmics: the 100-issue flip-flop!

    July 30, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. B.

    I thought that last week or so, it was "Russia" that was the biggest threat , wasn’t it Mitt? This guy will say and do literally anything to win!

    You cannot believe anything that comes out of this guys mouth..

    July 30, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    The GOP solution: Start a war with Iran (totally unfunded of course). Get the poor people to fight/die in the war while giving the rich people "no bid contracts". Thus killing two GOP birds with one stone. Then use Iran's oil to pay for the war. And when the war is over, Iran will sell us cheap oil!!!!!!!!........Just like Iraq!!!!!!!!........Oh wait......never mind.

    July 30, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. genebrady

    He is sooooo dumb. Iran is no threat to the USA and won't ever be. It is a potential threat to Israel and for good reason. Let them handle their own battles like adults. Israel is a nation of whinners and always has been. They are boring and useless.

    July 30, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. REG in AZ

    Mitt Romney is totally full of himself and as such, he lacks the humility to see and understand the needs of the people. He simply is one of the 1%ers, is committed to their interests and just expects people to accept whatever he says and to do as instructed – their simply being “pawns” to serve “the money’s’” needs. That is what he is accustom to, without ever having any care or understanding for what anything else is like. We even see him today play-acting to the different interests of multiple countries for their American loyalist’s support. To expect comprehensive and responsible policy to really benefit the people from him, is like expecting “blood from a turnip”, it just isn’t there.

    July 30, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. drake mallard

    From Draft Dodging to War Mongering Mitt Romney is George W. Bush

    Mitt Romney was in favour of the war in Vietnam, but was too chicken to
    fight in it. He had his little pro war sign, and was happy to see
    other people be sent and get killed, but wouldn't go himself

    like father like son

    while the middle and lower class of America sent their sons and daughters off to war during the past 10 years NOT EVEN ONE of these 5 Romney son’s (all who were of military service age) served their nation during that time frame. No, not even one!

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and now Romney along with the rest of the Republican CHICKENHAWKS never have a problem sending other people's children to war.

    Will any of Mitt's 5 sons be involved in this future "war"?

    July 30, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. swing state voter

    oh please listen to this guy! He is a disaster on so many levels! Putin would have him for lunch–
    he criticizes Russia and then says that does not mean they are an enemy? Oh wow. That is just
    picking a fight. . . .just ONE example of how BAD romney is at performing the actual job of playing
    president. And to think there are those would give him the job. completely insane. This is what the GOP
    has left and some are ok with this–that to me is just incomprehensible.

    July 30, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |

    This guy is out of his league when it comes to national security and foreign policy. Ehud Barak just made the Romney campaign look like the bunch of fools that they are. I'm not electing a guy hellbent on going to war. Making comments in Israel sparking hostile tensions among Palestinians is not smart and very unproductive. Is this guy who will move the peace process ahead? I think not!

    July 30, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Al

    Most REAL Americans believe Obama is our number 1 issue followed by the crazy Muslims!!!! He is doing more to destroy America than any outside threat!!!

    July 30, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Innkahoots

    Just preaching to the choir, again.

    July 30, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Tom

    Apparently he is flip flopping because our 51st state (Israel) is demanding it via AIPAC donations.

    July 30, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. romneycares less

    No, Romney Is our #1Threat! As a Christian and past Republican I'm voting for Pres. Obama. An honest and thoughtful man.

    July 30, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. McShannon

    Netanyahu representing Israel gladly receives 3 + billion from USA each year and this amounts to over $400 per citizen of Israel in American aid. What would they expect if at war with Iran? Our full backing of course and even more financial aid as promised of course by Mitt. Iran can be laid to a heap of dust any time we choose but most of us have respect for the Iranian population that can do nothing to change what their leaders are forging. Kill, kill, GOP mentality.

    July 30, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. McShannon

    Rich men don't fight wars they profit from them.

    July 30, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Common sense grandma

    I think most Americans are totally fed up with wars that accomplish little except making money for the rich and for the prosthetics industry. This guy cannot seem to decide who the biggest threat is - in his case, you have to go to the old Pogo cartoon strip and paraphrase it. "We have met the enemy and he is me."

    July 30, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. don

    The more this dumb man talks, the easier it's going to be for Obama. It's a shame that the GOP has no real candidates with real solutions. They are not the rich party that steps on middle class dreams.

    July 30, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. John

    Deputy Prime Minister Baruk just stated that the Obama administration has been the best one ever.....Kind of take the wind out of your sails Mitt?................Mitt, Mitt, it's time to quit...............

    July 30, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. swing state voter

    Obam is in NO way our number one threat. Romney isn't even in the white house yet and
    he is proving disastrous. SO let's all be smart and NOT give him the job!
    Good God ihope this country isn't that stupid.

    July 30, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. n

    "Russia is our number one foe, no, Iran is, no, it's Russia . . . Wait a minute, who am I'm addressing today? That Romney is a funny cat.

    July 30, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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