In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace for Israelis and Palestinians
September 18th, 2012
08:44 AM ET
9 years ago

In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace for Israelis and Palestinians

(CNN) – A clip of Mitt Romney speaking at a private fund-raiser in May shows the GOP presidential candidate questioning the prospect of ever reaching peace between Israelis and Palestinians, calling a path to a solution in the region "almost unthinkable to accomplish."

The clip, one of a series of videotaped remarks that were posted on the website of the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, shows Romney speaking in more pessimistic tones about peace in the region than he generally does in public. The clip shows only Romney speaking, and does not include any questions that may have prompted his remarks.

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"I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard," Romney is shown saying. "One is the one which I've had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."

Romney goes on to describe the obstacles he sees toward developing a so-called "two state solution" that would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. He cites problems of geography, including the proximity to Tel Aviv of a potential border between the two states, as preventing any real progression toward the two states.

"These are problems-these are very hard to solve, all right?" Romney says on the tape. "And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, 'There's just no way.'"

His role as president, Romney says, would be to "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," he concludes. "We kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don't go to war to try and resolve it imminently."

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, called Romney's comments "dangerous" Tuesday.

"He seems to think of himself as a mind reader since he claims to know what Palestinian intentions are," Ashrawi said. "It seems to me it is about time that he stops pandering to the Israeli lobby and funders by selling out Palestinian rights and by destroying the chances of peace in the region.

"Such statements are dangerous and could be irreparable damage to American credability and standings not just in the Middle East but throughout the world," Ashrawi added.

Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, said the tape showed Romney laying out "a detailed description of the many difficult issues that must be solved in order to reach a two-state solution."

"And as he's often said, there is this one obvious truth: peace will not be possible if the extreme elements of the Palestinian side refuse to come to the table for talks or to recognize Israel's right to exist," Saul said. "A possible unity government between Hamas–a terrorist organization–in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank would squelch the prospect for peace. Gov. Romney believes that the path to a two-state solution is to ensure the security of Israel and not to throw up any more barriers to the two sides engaging in direct negotiations."

In public, Romney has declared support for the two-state solution, including in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in July.

"The decision as to where the borders would be, as we move to a two-state solution, which I support, that's a decision on borders that will be worked out by Israelis and the Palestinians," Romney told Blitzer in the interview, which was taped as the candidate was visiting Jerusalem as part of a three-country foreign swing. "I hope that's a process which is ongoing and ultimately successful. But as to the exact location of borders, that is something I will leave that to the negotiating parties themselves."

At a CNN-sponsored debate in Florida in January, however, Romney used terms similar to those used at the fund-raiser to address the notion of a two-state solution.

"There are some people who say, should we have a two-state solution? And the Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel," Romney said. The debate was held in the heat of the GOP primaries.

Romney continued: "The best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, 'We stand with our friend Israel. We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.'"

Romney has consistently criticized President Barack Obama for his dealings with Israel, saying the president hasn't been a staunch-enough ally to the Jewish state in opposing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Taking a strong pro-Israel approach is a strategy the Romney campaign hopes will galvanize Jewish voters in the United States, as well as pro-Israel evangelicals who Romney struggled to court during the GOP primaries.

The tapes revealed Tuesday are the latest in a cache of material given to Mother Jones showing Romney speaking candidly to supporters at a fund-raiser. Appearing on MSNBC late Monday night, the author of the Mother Jones article, David Corn, said the event took place May 17 in Boca Raton, Florida, at the home of Sun Capital executive Marc Leder.

The person responsible for the footage said he or she wishes to remain anonymous for "professional reasons and to avoid a lawsuit," according to the Huffington Post, which also published the tapes. Furthermore, the video was altered dramatically - but retains the audio from the event - to mask the location and date of the fund-raiser with high-dollar donors.

Late Monday, Romney explained controversial statements from tapes released earlier were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but defended the main message of his remarks.

In the footage Romney argued nearly half of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama because they rely on government support, made apparent jokes about wishing he had Latino heritage, and talks about a Chinese factory his former firm was considering purchasing.

CNN's Sara Sidner, Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

– Eastwood: If they were 'dumb enough to ask me…'

– Obama camp wastes no time highlighting Romney tapes

– Hatch might 'die before his term' ends, opponent charges

– Biden on Romney tape: 'words speak for themselves'

Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. bill

    Finally Romney has stated his positions, if only to a small crowd of "donors." Since he denigrates half of the American people, the only question left for him is "Why are you even running for President of the United States of America."

    September 18, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. steven

    i am surprised to hear that governor romney does not believe the palistanians wants peace.right now it is israel who is doing the killing every is israel who is doing the land grab.right now it is israel who is obstructing the peace by still building setlements in palistanian terrirories.he is right there can,t be peace.not whilst israel is pointing the gun at palistine.

    September 18, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. tam

    Romney's remarks, even off the cuff, are not offensive in any way. He stands with Israel and we know Israel backs a two state solution. The Palestinians, backed by Hezbollah and Iran take your pick, want war. Further more he isn't suggesting that the elderly or disabled get kicked to the curb. He is tirelessly trying to get the American people to get their head out of the sand, take a look at reality, and as John Kennedy famously said "...ask what you can do for your country."
    I voted for Barak Obama and I have been more offended and had my intelligence offended by many of the things he has said while in front of the microphone let alone when he thought no one was listening. Just like anyone caught cheating or lying I can not hear the sound of his voice anymore. Too many words and no substance.

    September 18, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. J. Hicks

    Is the liberal media trying to disparage Romney with political spin for his right to voice his own opinion and basically telling the truth that many believe – including Iran ("wipe Israel off the map"), Hezbollah, Hamas, and others in the Middle East? Fact is the Obama policy is vacillating, apologetic head-in-the-sand in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world while clearly being neutral if not down right hostile to Israel. Romney just expressed a sentiment many in the U.S. share.

    September 18, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. scieng1

    While the Dems may challenge everything Mitt says, at least he is someone who will be honest in what he thinks. This is unlike Obama, who says one thing and does another, then denies both. I would rather vote for an honest person who listens to reason, rather than a dishonest person who doesn't listen at all.

    September 18, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Tigrr

    This is what the last GOP WH did....

    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.

    Yeah, the Bush WH Gang did it. McCain knew. Most of Congress knew.

    September 18, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. Peggy - TX

    Romney shows an arrogant side where he makes simple conclusions based on very little knowledge. When it comes to middle class Americans, he fail;s to comprehend that the top 10% of wage earners have ammassed 90% of the wealth the grate country produces, leaving very liitle left for the middle class and nothing for the disadvanged and the unlucky who are no longer able to make a living wage. Most of the 48% he spoke of, jlike they are lazy stupid people that do not know how to hostilly take over failing companys and milk them for all they are worth, just want the Tax codes to be such that they are fair to the middle class, want thier kids to be able to go to colledge, and want Finicial instiutions to be regulated so that the greedy 1% don't just take everything and then sit on it or send it over seas.

    September 18, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. Rational Mike from Palm Coast, Fl

    Now we know more about the true Mitt Romney! What a revelation! He says that he has thought for years that it is almost "unthinkable" that there could ever be a separate independent Palestine. He says that they don't even want a nation of their own if it means to be next to Israel! Evidently he has not watched many from Palestine die over a period of decades in an attempt to free their people from from Israeli rule. I suppose that all of the time that the U.S. has spent over decades to support a peaceful two state solution has been a waste!
    Well done Mr. Romney in one speech you have not only alienated 47% of the American people, some of which would of voted for you by the way-the poor are not all Democrats ;-), but you have also alienated much of the Middle East, that silly them actually believe that Palestine could become a peaceful independent nation with the help of a supportive international community. Under Romney, and his Israeli colored glasses, that will never happen!

    September 18, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. Tigrr

    Bush WH gave 16 Trillion in secret bailouts to US and FOREIGN banks...

    Search article or Bernie Sanders site -- ""Audit Of The Federal Reserve Reveals $16 Trillion In Secret Baillouts – 2 September 2012""

    September 18, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. TheMendicantBias

    Wow, what else has Romney been hiding? This is shocking.

    September 18, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. enuff

    As president, you are not allowed to have too many "off the cuff" moments. Romney was in his element when he made those comments, and was truthful for the very first time on his priorities. That is why he did not allow media into his rich fundraiser parties. People would actually see him saying what he truly believed. It would be interesting to see what he actually said during his gathering in Utah with Karl Rove... another man caught spouting his true feelings behind closed doors.

    September 18, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |

    Israel needs to stop building settlements and preventing the peace process from moving forward. Peace is not inevitable. It will happen as it is written.

    September 18, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. Farrok

    What Mr. Romney needs to do is go off and enjoy his wealth and leave the rest of us alone. That includes the 47% of us worthless Americans. Vote for a American that cares for ALL of us, President Obama…………..

    September 18, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Debbie from Arizona

    Another day, another reason why this man should never be President of the United States.

    September 18, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Jay

    To the CNN staffer who is reading this, I do not like that you are regulating our comments. Most of your major headlines are on disquss, and you never have us wait for comments to be approved. This tells me that the comments I read in response to these stories are the responses you want people to see. That is a very shady news tactic.

    September 18, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. tony

    What great Pope this guy would make! How much would it cost to buy the Vatican? Absorbing their pension fund afterwards would turn it into a sweet deal. And sending all the confession sessions over to china over skype, would mean he could lay off all the priests.

    September 18, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. Tommy

    Well, we can't accuse him of being smart, could we?
    Let's not get into the political discussion and talk about only numbers. There are 5.5 Million Jews and 5.5 Million Palestinians living between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean. 1.5 Million of those Palestinians are Israeli citizens (20% of Israelis in fact) who fully support an independent Palestine with 67 borders. The other 4 Million however, have no country. The way I see it, there are two solutions only, either two states, either one bi-national democratic state. Isn't that fair? Oh.. and there are a couple of million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, don't they deserve going home after almost 65 years?

    September 18, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Dee

    Romney is dangerous he says a lot of stuff before his rich friends and I truly believe these are statements that he truly believes and he is trying to fool the american people. This is why people don't trust him and he can't connect to the everyday american.

    Who is the real Mitt Romney? Show your tax returns

    September 18, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. Thinkstr8

    Mitt Buffoon – smh. The only people this man likes is people of wealth. I am sure he feels that all other people are usless and a drain on the country.

    September 18, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  20. Lily02886

    Of course Romney casts doubt on "Peace for Israel". He hates "them" . That's right if you are poor, if you are black, hispanic, handicapped, a student with a college loan, a single mother, a woman who wants breast cancer screening; a veteran or WORSE YET if you are just a regular Joe, a white American wage earner earning less than $200,000 a year – Governor Romney thinks we are all worthless. – – – – – If he despises his fellow Americans. If he has such contempt for all of us – is it possible that Romney has any feelings for anyone or anything other than MITT ROMNEY. Romney has hundreds of millions of dollars invested ABROAD. Mitt Romney is positioned to make money by provoking conflicts in the Middle East. If OPEC cuts off oil to the USA, Romney's multimillion dollar investments in Russian petroleum will have a bonanza pay-off. – – – – The TWO secret videos of the past week are proof enough.

    September 18, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. Sniffit

    See ya, Mittens. Enjoy your car elevator and disgusting beliefs....PRIVATELY.

    September 18, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Core republican Values

    The wheels have completely fallen off the Romney campaign.

    September 18, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. nolongerarepublican

    Romney is insane.
    He iis absolutely dysfunctional.
    This is the stuff we know about, think about the stuff we will never hear.

    September 18, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. JohnRJohnson

    For a presidential candidate to make remarks like this is beyond belief. This wasn't one of the accidental "open mic" moments. He spoke this outloud to a roomful of people. The man is terminally stupid.

    September 18, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Martin Walters Seattle

    We need to have an immediate mercy election just so we can get this over with for Mitts sake.

    September 18, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
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