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. Alexandra

    The real question is: Why is Netanyahu having any conversations with Mitt Romney re: Israel's national security. Romney is nothing more than a candidate right now. In fact, Romney has absolutely no authority to offer opinions, recommendations, suggestions or otherwise on behalf of the United States of America. He's not a member of congress, not secretary of state, not even a governor. Plus, his recent performance on the international stage was embarrassing. Frankly, for Netanyahu to even engage in conversation with Romney is disrespectful to our elected President who is the only official representative of our nation (not referencing Presidential appointees i.e., Hillary Clinton). I would think that Obama would be well within protocol to refuse to discuss any national or international issue with Netanyahu that Netanyahu feels it is appropriate to discuss and share with a private citizen like Romney.

    September 28, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. ColoradoJoe

    Iran has or will have weapon grade uranium ? Evidence please? Wouldn't want another Bush/Cheney claim of WMD

    September 28, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    "chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East."

    Israel is only labeled our closest ally in the middle east because we PAY THEM to be. If we quit giving them $5+BILLION in (mostly) military aid – that keeps our industrial complex arms dealers going – they'd turn to Russia or China for it.
    That number doesn't include the under the table deals with the Fed and other sources.
    Make up your own mind as to whether they are our "closest allies" or not.

    September 28, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. ThinkAgain: Hey networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    To all those saber-rattling GOP chicken-hawks wanting to go to war with Iran: I'm assuming you and your kids have all volunteered to serve in combat, right?

    September 28, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Amniculi

    The whole situation with the US and the Middle East is ridiculous. We should focus on protecting our interests locally, i.e. embassies, oil installations, etc., and otherwise keep our political nose out of things. We should just let them all kill each other off. This includes our false-friend Israel. Supporting Israel is like supporting the bullied kid in school, only to find out that the kid deserves the beatings because he keeps provoking kids bigger than he is.

    September 28, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. mike

    Why in Gods name is Romney stepping into this he is not president nor will he ever be. What right does he have to influence foreign affairs we have only one president at a time. He hasnt got a clue anyway

    September 28, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Mo

    Can someone explain how it benefits Iran to shoot off a nuclear bomb on Israel? They have to know that they would be instantly retaliated would be better for them people who want to do this to just run in front of a moving car...saves the lives of people who have and want no part of this bickering...

    September 28, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Pedro

    Iran is waking up the sleeping lion of Juda

    September 28, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    47% of me thinks Mittens is an idiot, and 53% of me thinks he is an undeserving plutocrat who should pay his fair share of taxes.

    September 28, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republicans love war, but hate our troops and our veterans.

    September 28, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. JIMpnw

    Tell me who wins when anyone drops a nuke.And does anyone really think that Iran would drop a bomb on Israel.They would get hit with 10 times the fire power and would stop the flow of oil from their land.Leaders are alot of things ,but crazy leaders of both Israel and Iran understand what total wipe out is or will be.

    September 28, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. bewareofthewarmachine

    We have a foreign leader goading America into sending its troops to do his country's bidding and the Republicans boast like its the second coming of Christ. Word up you holy Christians... that man doesn't believe in Christ. And where was the battle hungry Romney during Vietnam? Why in France of course converting the uninterested population to Mormonism.... now that helped defeat the commies!

    September 28, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Lean6

    This is disgusting! Is Netanyahu is the real President of these United States?!

    September 28, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. Captain Obvious

    During his U.N. speech in New York, Netanyahu held up a simple graphic of a ticking time bomb that showed a red line before the fuse, representing the point "before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a bomb."

    That's not a time bomb and it isn't ticking. It's a bomb with a lit fuse. Does CNN employ "special" children to write their articles?

    September 28, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. johnmenacherjr

    What in gods name is Romney involved in any of this??? Did i miss something overnight like the chamber of commerce taking over or Romney. He is a Candidate and not a good one at any rate. This makes no sense to me at ALL! And why are the Isrealis dictating to us??? We have always been there. WTF??? Who do they think they are ? Are they thinking they need to intervene into our politics? I have never felt this way about them but courting friggin Romney and showing him the same treatment as the president WTF??? Darn dirty old republicNS iTS TIME TO START DRAWING A LINE ON THE REPUBLICAN-GROVER nORQUIST REPUBLICANS . MAN THE SIMPLE AUDACITY OF THEM!

    September 28, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. v_mag

    It's time to have a conversation about nuclear arms in the Middle East. Specifically, Israel's nuclear arms. Why were they allowed to develop nukes? Why did we not invade Israel preemptively and destroy their nuclear capability before they got to the stage where they could easily start WW III? Why is the U.S. not demanding that Israel give up its nukes and quit provoking war in the Middle East?

    Israel, the country causing all the problems in the Middle East, the country that already has nukes, the country oppressing its own Muslim population, the country that has been caught spying on America. Why does Israel always get a pass from the U.S.? All you have to do is to look at the bribes they give our politicians to know that answer.

    September 28, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. Big Al

    Get ready America. We will be shedding blood and money on behalf of Israel. Netanyahoo will get the United States to do their dirty work. Why should they shed blood and money when they can get us to do it for them. War is coming. Iran will not change or change their regime. George W. Bush did Iran a big favor by invading Iraq.

    September 28, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |

    When did it become our job to baby sit Israel?

    September 28, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Joi Gibson

    Netanayahu sure does seem eager for the UNITED STATES to go to war with Iran. I could be way wrong (wouldn't be the first time :)), but seems to me Ahmadinejad likes to flap his jaws. I doubt he would attack Israel knowing full well the United States would be on him like stink on poop (and probably other countries as well). I think Ahmadinejad just likes the attention. I seriously doubt the American people are in the mood for another war/occupation in the Middle East, and given the friendship between Willard and Bibi, I can see Willard saying oh yeah, the U.S. Military will attack if Willard is elected president. Diplomacy is always the best way – and is necessarily the hardest way. I will never forget how Netanyahu disrespected President Obama in Congress and those yahoos kept giving him a standing ovation. Don't come over here disrespecting our President and then expect him to be at your beck and call.


    September 28, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Peace

    Netanyahu acts like Romney, Romney used that white board which did not mean anything at all just rubbing off all the time, because he was not prepared to display his board. Now comes Netanyahu with red ink, which is, in an intellectual sense means nothing. Anyone can draw lines as much as they want, BUT without having majority behind you to reach there, it ,means nothing!

    September 28, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. WiredWeirdinSF

    While our president was out telling lies about what happened in Libya and bashing and demonizing those who disagree with him about stealing our tax money to give to the corrupt union bosses, welfare frauds and dope addicts. this man was talking about the real world and its dangers. Obama remember said he would speak to Iran about their bombs, he diid and they are still laughing about the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing.

    September 28, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. PJ

    America has, and always will, support Israel with money, weapons, and at the UN (using their veto on any proposals
    that hurt Israel).
    Netanyahu needs to treat our President (at least publicly) with the respect he deserves.
    Bibi once said that GW Bush "is the best friend Israel has ever had", Right, because Bush let them do anything
    they wanted to, and now he thinks he has another lapdog in Romney, and he is right.
    Romney has all but said that he would let Netanyahu set our middle east foreign policies.
    So, they can have their petty little talks, it just makes both of them look weak and silly. Especially Romney.
    Speaking of Bush:
    Where is the story about him going to the Cayman Islands, to be the keynote speaker at some
    Investment Opportunities forum? Is Bush getting pointers from Romney on how to avoid paying taxes by
    putting your money outside the US? This is happening 5 days before the election. Ticker, please
    tell us more.

    September 28, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Malory Archer

    Wake up people!

    I'm just wondering where the story is about the firm in Florida, that was hired by the GOP and Willard, which had a history of voter suppression, getting caught doing the very same thing all over again.

    Actually, they were hired by willard & the gNO!p to register rethugliban voters. Several supervisors of elections questioned the validity of a bunch of the registrations because it appeared they all had been signed by the same person. Isn't it funny how the "librul media" isn't all over this story?


    September 28, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Delaware

    There is no such red line; the real red line is the American economy and we need to put our people back to work and help fight poverty. Wars bring more poverty and more bad economy and plus we do not have the money. We need to stop that nonsense because that guy Netanyahu is a manupilator that is trying to manupilate our politics and citizens. What don't he go to Europe and make his claim there to France, Germany and Great Britain because I am sure that they are superpower too. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon but US cannot do this along because I am sure that issue is a global threat.
    Mitt Romney and his campaign is so arrogant and now they are down play the polls as inaccurate and also said that the president support is the 47% percent and that group do not vote and they are mostly minorities wo never vote. Let us prove them wrong and get out in big number and vote November six and if you live in states where they are require ID, make sure that you have your ID because that ID thing cannot stop us. They want ID go make one.

    September 28, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Sam

    To The REAL Truth: you spoke the truth and I thank you.

    September 28, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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