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. GI Joe

    SNOPES – be sure to check your state – some ballots are void unless you FIRST check the box for president, and then check the straight Dem after that.

    Also, SAC, a republican consulting firm is found guilty in 7 (maybe more) counties of submitting invalid registrations for voters. Imagine - Republicans + Florida + voter suppression === 2000.

    September 28, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. GI Joe

    Mitt's friend BiBi will inform him how he is supposed to set foreign policy for the U.S. IF he is selected to be president.

    BiBi needs to keep his nose out of our politics. Cut the money and equipment off to Israel. Our money is gone.

    Obama/Biden 2012 – and a dem House so we can get a COLA for our service members.

    September 28, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Former Republican, now an Independent

    It appears more and more that Netanyahu wants to be a part of this election. If he isn't careful, he could burn some bridges that he may need to cross.

    September 28, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Steve

    You need to back off the throttle a little. The Obama administration is giving Romney national security briefings. Netanyahu can talk to whoever he wants, and President Obama has to talk to Netanyahu because that's what we hired him to do. And besides, unless you think the world is ending before November, like it or not Romney might be the next president, so he needs to be in the loop.

    September 28, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    Larry in Houston

    Hey NetinYahoo – What do you want us to do, huh ?? Do you want us to send Tanks to Isreal & Fighter Jets and an aircraft carrier so you guys can decide to "Bomb" Iran ? Don't you remember what we've done for you back in 1967 ? Huh ? Do You ? I'm not taking sides here, I'm Just tellin you the facts NetanYahoo. We sent you tanks / fighter jets – and every other means of warfare ( except our troops) back then, and guess what happened / You ended up re-drawing the Map, and ended up expanding Your Borders.


    Israel also attacked the USS Liberty, knowing full well it was an allied ship, killing a bunch of American servicemembers. When one of the Israeli fighter pilots tried to stop the attack, he was ordered to continue.

    September 28, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Dale

    OK why is romney making a call to this guy ......he needs to let be where he has no" tread" , he didn't fair well the first time he jumped in. A phone call does not constitute foreign policy.......keep on trying Mitt, maybe you should have done some other foreign affairs stunts before running for election.....

    September 28, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Chumlee

    Would someone please tell this jerk that this is the US and he aint got nothing to do with what we do as a country.

    This guy is a loser and wants to start another war for the US.

    Go away nutjob. Deal with Israel and leave the US alone. Now!

    September 28, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. bob

    Romney and this wiley coyote guy would get us in to a war with Iran. Romney is just too wishy washy to stand up to him. Obama keeping the war monger at arms length is the safest way to go for our country.

    September 28, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. GI Joe

    A few of our Bunker Busters would turn Iran to glass. Why is BiBi talking to Mitt? he's not any kind of an official of the U.S.

    September 28, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. z2cents

    Saudi Arabia is a more useful ally in the region compared to Israel

    September 28, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Larry

    First things first , obama has a failed foregin policy Libya and Egypt ia a good example Gov. Romney was right when he said at his press conference when our Libyen ambassador was murderd by a terrorist attack Gov. Romney was up to speed going threw the gate . If obama would have been attending his intelliegence meetings he would not have to take two weeks to understand it was a terrorist attack . Iran will not respect obama and obama will not draw the red line untill he is sure the muslim brotherhood aooroves we have a very weak president and the whole world knows it . The problem is this weak president will put the people od the US in a very dangerous spot , we could suffer great loss of life in this country because obamas failed foregin policy has no red line . Of the two men Gov. Romney is by far the best man for the job.

    September 28, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Ancient Texan

    Alexandra- Surprise, surprise! the opposing candidate (after his nomination) has ALWAYS had access to world leaders, national security reports, etc. It's protocol that has been in place for eons. BTW Obama has really done a "bang-up-good job" of foreign policy, right? NOT! His policy of apology, appeasement, and cowering before our enemies resulted in the attacks on our Embassies all over the middle East and the death of 4 of our citizens.

    September 28, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Jason

    Ok, so what is the outcome suppose to be here anyway. If IRAN does not stop then we do what. Go BOMB the hack out of them, put troops on the ground in IRAN and blow up their cities. All this talk about talking with the prime minster is for what. Are going to WAR again.. All the right wingers say obama is not tough enough, well what would Romney do in this situation, Go Bomb Iran right now or what. Come on right wingers tell us what romney is gonna do

    My answer is nothing, just talk on the phone with the guy. Pres obama is gonna do the same execept for the fact he is the president and he has inside intel and if something is gonna go down it would be stupid to make that information PUBLIC... No need to alram the Iranians that we coming.

    September 28, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Colorado Joe– OMG.., Do you EVER read a newspaper or watch the news on TV? And we can assume you plan to vote??????

    September 28, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. GI Joe

    Hey BiBi – we didn't find WMDs in Iraq either. Butt out of our politics or we'll be sending a drone YOUR way (don't I wish).

    September 28, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. miles

    netanyahu ben haveing his way with all past president he want war like john mc cain he need to go out there he got everything he want and to put amc in war that why thy vot hem out the fristtime we donot need war ronny will do any thing to be president let the president do his job mitt ronny is a no bodly want to be something

    September 28, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. linda

    What ever Romney has to bring to the WH as President is out weighed by the fact that he is weak when it comes to standing on his own.....this nut case in Isreal wants a War.....and he is wanting to see which one of our two Presidental Canidates will draw the RED LINE.....Obama will do all he can diplomaticly before committing to War.....Romney will jump into a War just to apease Isreal not giving complete consideration to the loss of lives or the cost of money that it will intel and just to show the World how much Power he has.......

    September 28, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. FLIndependent

    @Judy – "romney and netanyahu where room mates at school togeather so you tell me whats going on.? Is netanyahu trying to help mitt win? Most isralies don't like netanyahus policies. So whats the deal.? The president is right. They don;t tell us what to do and we should not cave in to anything they want just because the tell us to. Forward 2012 Why should he be talking to him anyway???
    I agree, there is something going on and it does seem like he's trying to manipulate our election. Afterall, Mittens visited with him not so long ago so wonder what they discussed? Scary if you ask me.

    September 28, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. FactCheck

    The title of this article is very incorrect... it should read "Netanyahu Makes Big Phone Call". Let's not forget who is the junior in this partnership. Israel DOES NOT get to tell the US what to do, how many soldiers we should deploy and where we should deploy them. Let's get that one thing straight.

    September 28, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. FactCheck

    Israel need to keep in mind that THEY are the juniors in this partnership. They DO NOT get to dictate when/if the US should deploy. Let's get that straight.

    September 28, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Cheryl

    Netanyahu has been friends with Romney since his Bain days.

    September 28, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Dave

    What people don't understand about Iran is that for most of its Muslim population, the concept of life on this earth isn't as important as life after for many Middle Easterners, being killed in the face of a nuclear war is actually a "reward" of sorts for their belief of an afterlife with 72 virgins, etc.. As a result, Ahmadenijad isn't afraid to start a war in the Middle East. It's all about posturing. On the other hand, Netanyahu doesn't seem to care if he drags the U.S. into a Middle East situation where OUR men and women have to die. I'm just trying to figure out why the rest of the world (and many hawkish Americans) think that our military men and women are simply a sacrificial commodity. Isn't time that Israel sit down across from its enemies and figure out how to get along with their Middle Eastern neighbors?

    September 28, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. SeeThruIt2

    1. Israel is within missle range of Iran's weapons.
    2. Iran has stated that Israel should be wiped out.
    3. If Iran develops a nuke, they could launch against Israel.
    4. Israel is capable of launching their own strike against Iran to stop development of the nuke.
    BUT: If Israel strikes Iran, Iran will strike U.S. targets in retaliation.

    Netanyahu is looking after his own country's security. He's showing us the courtesy of asking WHAT indicator is sufficient reason to launch their attack? All he's getting is a a response from the U.S. of "just wait".

    September 28, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. works for me

    Keep Romney away... He and his buddies would love to start another war.

    September 28, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Rich Parks

    Romney now has to follow OUR LEADER.... 1st Willard says Obama fails to lead, then falls right in line behind Obama's ON-GOING phone call lead. Bennett, Romney / Ryan, and the minion of GOP talking heads say: "Obama is a imperialist" (King) for taking the initiative and leading beyond the impasse in Washington with executive orders. Be careful what you ask for, you want a leader in obstructionist Washington? Executive leading FORM follows GOP DYSFUNCTION.

    September 28, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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