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
10 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. Obama

    What on earth could Romney possibly have to say to any world leader?

    September 28, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    Vet in TX:

    No one is calling for bombing Iran, so chill out. I do have a question for you: If Iran develops a nuclear weapon and uses it on Israel (whose elmination they have repeatedly called for) then Israel would get essentially obliterated in a single stroke. What would you then say should be the response of the US?

    September 28, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Cedar Rapids

    "His whole foreign policy is a joke...muslim outreach is in flames...and yet he makes time to go on the view...can you say idiocy"
    So you think going on the View stops him from doing what exactly? what was put on hold for any time so he could do that?
    And this week we have had people in Libya protesting against the attacks and shouting how they support the US; people who actually went and threw out extremists from buildings in the capital. When is the last time you saw anything like that support for the US in a country like Libya? Ever?

    September 28, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Cam Spurgeon

    I think Romney is way out of line in trying to get in the middle of foreign affairs. He is simply a candidate and undermining American position in any negotiation. We have one President at a time now matter what and someone needs to muzzle this fool..

    September 28, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. truth hurts

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    Au contraire Mittens. President Obama's "noise" comment was "the latest evidence of his chornic disregard for" YOU!
    The question posed to Obama that drew the "noise" reference was about pressure from Netanyahu, not Romney. Obama, yet again, insulting him in public, as he's done in the past.

    September 28, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Anyone have an decent answer?

    If Israel is so concerned about Iran why don't they just do the deed themselves,why drag the rest of the world into it?

    September 28, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Steve

    Seems like sanctions and sabotage have at least worked to slow the Iranians down. But is it enough to stop them?

    The problem is a direct attack on them will almost surely backfire.

    September 28, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Bushie

    Romney has NO business talking to Netanyahu. He is NOT representative of American foreign policy and is only trying to score points with the Jewish community.

    September 28, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Debby

    Well I admire Romney for taking initiative vs. Obama the supposed Pres. when he wants to be.

    September 28, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Ed1

    I am impressed that Obama gave him 20 minutes of phone time face to face would have been better but that would take to much time away from time spent trying to get re-elected for a job hes hasn't done yet.

    We can't afford 4 more years of his failed policies and out of control spending.

    September 28, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. v_mag

    Here's 3 countries with nuclear weapons that no one is talking about: Israel, Pakistan, North Korea. Those countries don't worry you? Everybody is focused on Iran, which doesn't have a nuke, just like they focused on the mythical WMD in Iraq, and for much the same reason. The right wingers want a war with Iran so that W-omney can look like a leader by criticizing the President. W-omney and his 5 sons will all be safe, just like W and his daughters, and Cheney's kids and Rummy's kids and any of the other chicken hawks and their kids. But middle and lower class kids will die, and accomplish just about as much as was accomplished in Iraq, which is zero.

    It's too bad that W is in hiding. If he'd show his face, folks might remember what a nightmare it was to live in his America and wake up before W-omney does it to us again.

    September 28, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. FactCheck

    We can't afford 4 more years of his failed policies and out of control spending.

    if you are tired of government intervention and spending, there is this really nice country for you... Somalia. Book your tickets now because Mitt is toast.

    September 28, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Ah, let Mitt pump his chest and speak to Netanyahu now. What's the harm? As it is, after November, Mitt's got nothing more to do but go home and play "pretend" president with Ann and the kids.

    September 28, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Soprano

    My granfather, my father and I served in the military. Now, my 2 oldest son's are serving. The oldest one (12 years of service) in the air force & the youngest in the army (6 years). They both comming for reenlistment soon.I am advicing them not to re-up but the last word will be theirs. I'm tire of war. While we in the middle class are willing to serve the upperclass doesn't. Look up how many politicians in washington have been in the military not Pres Obama, Gov Romney or paul Ryan but they all willing to go to war to defend other countries. Remember General Patton ( guts & blood) Now politician uses the frase but in a different way "my guts your blood".

    September 28, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Why is Romney speaking to him exactly? He is unemplyed at the moment;; this job belongs to our President. STFU Romney!

    September 28, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. jmmyboy777

    Sounds like rightwing comments, left wing sympathy, and indepence... oh i forgot, they dont comment much. They're busy making the world a better place. Not bickering amongst parties.

    September 28, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. PAR

    What's all this hurry? Bibi how many times do you have to meet to repeat your plea? Both of your views are identical vis a vis Israel. Now just concentrate on the most important issue in the region by making peace with your neighbors the oppressed Palestinians. A cartoon sketch is acceptable.

    September 28, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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