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. truth hurts

    works for me - Keep Romney away... He and his buddies would love to start another war.
    Obama has stated Iran will not be allowed to get or possess a nuclear weapon. If they do, that sure sounds like war to me. Or is he just lying to us and the world?

    September 28, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Mitt Romney / Benjamin Netanyahu

    United States of Israel 2012

    September 28, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Joan

    Israel has three main problems right now- Palestine, Iran and loss of credibility and respect. Israel's first commitment should be to finally sit down with Palestine and come up with a sensible, humane two state resolution. It seems that it is the Prime Minister who refuses to consider any kind of compromise and be willing to come to a peaceful solution. He wants it his way or the highway. If these two countries finally could live in peace it would go a long way to bringing stability to the whole region. Second, Israel should stop focussing so much on Iran and their nuclear program. They have every right to have a nuclear program for electrical and medical purposes. . No country has the right to tell other sovereign countries what they can and can't do. As far as bombs go, why can Israel have bombs and Iran can't? Kind of a hypocritical double standard don't you think? At the UN this week, it was the Iranian leader who came off more sensible and credible than the PM of Israel. Interesting. Third, finally the world is starting to see the PM's true motives and that he is trying to bully other nations to do what he wants. Thank goodness, Pres. Obama is not cowering to him like Romney. Israel has no right to tell the US what it should do. Who does the PM think he is? Right now the ball is in Israel's court. They can work with Palestine to come to a peaceful solution, stop blustering about Iran and ratcheting up tensions in the region and start to regain some of their credibility. It is up to them.

    September 28, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. Alex in NJ

    Anyone suggesting here that we should stop supporting Israel is 110% correct. Any of those people who think Obama is the answer to achieving that goal is 110% wrong. Obama and Romney have nearly identical foreign policies. Elect either of these men and we will end up in another deadly, costly, avoidable war that makes us less safe and less free.

    September 28, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. noel

    WAKE UP OHIO & FLORIDA, we have seen the enemy and destroyer of America. He IS now our Manchurian president! Do something to end this nightmare, vote the BUM out before he destroys all that the greatest generation fought for so dearly!!!

    September 28, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Tadesse

    Another war for netanyahu at the expense of US money and life

    September 28, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. keeth

    Bibi wants his old buddy Romney to win so that Romney will do his bidding. Israel has nukes and a conscripted army. They can take care of themselves. It's time to cut the apron strings and the purse strings.

    September 28, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Sandra

    I'm getting really tired of Netanyahu trying to 1) tell the United States what to do and 2) him trying to influence this or ANY election because that is exactly what he is trying to do. He wants his old school buddy elected who he knows has the spine of a jellyfish and can be manipulated to do whatever Netanyahu wants. The thought of Romney in the White House gives me cold chills. Of course for the Defense Contractors he would be great....never ending stream of money because he would take us to war without any thought (except for his kids). That percentage of the 47% that is in the military needs to be very wary of this man. So should everyone.

    September 28, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Wake up people!

    The fact that Willard still believes he has a chance scares the living daylights out of me. After reading the article on a reputable news site (not this one) and finding out about the company that has been caught trying to steal our election once again completely freaks me out. This firm has been caught twice before and they are in Florida. People please register to vote and vote straight democratic ticket.

    OBAMA 2012!

    To the Willard surrogates, what would it take for you to see the real Robmey? Maybe if he were caught on tape dropping kittens and puppies into a grinder? Nah, you would just say he was doing it for their own good.

    September 28, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. james wallace

    Romney + Netanyahu = Road Runner + Wile E. Coyote. You just know nothing good will come of it!

    September 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. The American

    When will the American presidents stop sucking up to Israel? When will we stop fighting Israel's cat fight with our men and money? When will our Presidents start acting like big boys and be like the President of the United States – the best, beautiful and richest country on earth and stand up to Net an Yahoo and say shove it. Enough fighting their girly fights. Now it is time we focus on America. Supporting this spoiled child has made us way too many enemies. So, STOP, be a grown-up girl and leave America alone.

    September 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. montanagal

    Personally I agree with Alexandra. Romney is using his friendship with N. to stick his nose in prematurely in a blatant attempt to sway voters.

    September 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. w l jones

    In the distant past they have Nuclear war from Libya..desert in that area all the way to India ,even they had more advance Atomic power plant in Gabon Africa far more advance we have here in America today about .i.8 billion years ago. Enough said..

    September 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. gmenfan54

    Just by reading some of these comments you can tell anti-semitism is alive and well in the US.

    September 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota


    I'm getting really tired of Netanyahu trying to 1) tell the United States what to do and 2) him trying to influence this or ANY election because that is exactly what he is trying to do. He wants his old school buddy elected who he knows has the spine of a jellyfish and can be manipulated to do whatever Netanyahu wants.

    Well said.

    September 28, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. rla

    It took Romney to get Obama the detached to call our best ally in the middle east... That shows statesmenship rather than the detached -focus on the campaign and da- averything else!

    September 28, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. james wallace

    Isn't anyone worrying that mad bomber Netanyahu might get nukes? Oh wait - I forgot. He has them. Guess he can fight his own battles. Let's sit this one out.

    September 28, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Brian

    If Netanyahu think's Iran's a problem maybe Isreal should take care of it. Stop coming to us to fix your problems. Isreal has a military, use it

    September 28, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Why would anyone believe that Romney should speak to Netanyahu period? Romney is not the POTUS. And Netanyahu needs to go back home and figure out how he will address his issues with his country and officials.

    September 28, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. rla

    Romney is a statesmen Obama is an opportunist!!!

    September 28, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    Israel is a total FARCE, destroying USA....

    September 28, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. daniel

    Obama is the real deal when it comes down to Israel's defense. An Idiot like Romney is a person who knows nothing about diplomacy, who is a war monger. I just want this election season is over with and have our president lead us for 4 more years, and the other guy to his hibernation.

    September 28, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Thinker23

    If and when the Palestinians will produce leadership ABLE AND WILLING to stop violence, recognize Israel and negotiate a peace agreement Israel will gladly sit down with them. As long as there is no such Palestinian leadership Israel has no one to sit down with. Further, most of us do not have issues with cops carrying guns but we do have issues with violent criminals carrying the very same guns. The US, Britain, France, Russia and even China and North Korea DID NOT declare their desire to wipe other countries off the map. Iranian leaders, however, repeatedly declared that Israel did not have the right to exist and had to be destroyed. Still further, Israel does not tell anyone what to do but it tells what will happen in case Iran will be allowed to get nuclear weapons. Israel simply CAN NOT AFFORD this to happen. This means tha either the US and the rest of the world will use diplomatic and other means to prevent Iran from getting nukes or Israel will have to use force in order to achieve this goal.

    September 28, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. SoSad

    Netanyahoo, said that he does not want to be tied into this year's presidental elections, REALLY.

    It is time for Netanyahoo to go home, he's giving us East Coast Jewish People fits. Stay home, cook, drink some wine, but stay home. Stop it, stop it.

    September 28, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. RTB

    It is a waste of anybody's time to pay attention to the Israeli war monger's posturing. He will do anything to deflect attention from the brutality his government is inflicting upon the Palestinian people.

    September 28, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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