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

    freddie nerk - If I was Iran I would now accelerate a nuclear weapon program because Israel threatens to attack. Iran should detonate a crude device to test its capabilities and that would lead to peace. The US and Soviets achieved peace when it was obvious they had reached equal destructive parity.
    Where have you been? They have already accelerated it. If they detonated a test device it would mean an immediate attack by Israel and the USA, if Obama isn't lying. US and Soviets weren't running around threatening specific countries with destruction. If you were a small country like Israel would YOU wait for them to drop a nuke on you?

    September 28, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. RickN

    Perhaps the noise the President was referring to is the constant drone from republicans wanting yet another war.

    September 28, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Romney is TOTALLY WRONG to call or speak to anyone about the USA. He's running for President. Like it or NOT OB is The PRESIDENT. WE don't heed a pretender

    September 28, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Mike In Fairfax, VA

    For those who asked why Romney gets to make the call... He gets to meet with anyone the president meets with during the election cycle (World Leaders). That's why Obama didn't meet with any of them. That would have meant Romney having meetings and photo ops with them too. Might have made Obama look bad. Or at least made Romeny look better. Plus, Obama probably had nothing new to say to them since he doesn't have any new plans to tell us either.

    September 28, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. simp

    Romney is an idiot. Why in the hell is he talking to this idiot? I get so tired of this netanyahu and his threats, let those ungrateful idiots in the middle east deal with each other, hell we got enough on our plate here in the USA.

    September 28, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. Canuck

    @GI Joe
    "Stay out of our politics and don't try to dictate our foreign policy"

    "Hey GI Joe, one gets the feeling you'd prefer that Iran get a bomb and use it on Israel."

    Wow, that's quite the leap in logic there Truth. I think you're hearing what you want to hear...

    September 28, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. a sad reailty

    Ignorant fools: Yes Iran's first agenda may be to destroy Isreal, but Iran has made it quite clear that agenda item #2 is to destroy the west ie America and all other democratice sociies. America is protecting Isreal, America is protecting themselves by supplying Isreal with wepons and financial aide. Anyone with a brain realizes that Iran and the terrorist groups they fund will kill any and all americans, as they do everytime the opportunity presents itself. America is using Isreal as a partner, home base and as an intel arm for this terrorist declared jihad war!! Wake up fools!

    September 28, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Tommy

    Don't let the big nosed guy draw us into a war with Iran!. Let them do it on their own if they want, but no American blood should be spilled for Israel!

    September 28, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. mike

    Why is Romney calling this guy. He is not the president???? This guy should stop meddling in US politics during an election!!!

    September 28, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. mikle

    God help us if Obama's get elected.

    September 28, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |

    When asked, Romney agreed that he would do exactly what Obama is doing with Israel. It becomes apparent that Romney is using this as a political football. Frankly, when something as crucial as this situation or Libya or another crisis, someone who is not an official should be arrested for treason to stick their two cents in. Romney, why don't you ask Jewish Americans what they think of Mormanism?

    September 28, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Wake up people!

    Of course you would remove my comment but leave the one by the Grand Dragon mammy. I'm very offended, but that's ok right cnn??

    September 28, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Tree

    You see Romney and BB are friends they go way back. And BB knows that Romney is welling to go to war. BB wants US to do his dirty work and deeds. Just like he donated 1 millions dollars to Romney's Pac. The truth is there................

    September 28, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Jojola

    Romney's new campaign strategy – this week, "Mirror President Obama's every move and maybe the voters will confuse the two of us." Why not try this, he has tried everything else? Boy, what an inept person running on a republican ticket.

    September 28, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. TJ


    God help us if Obama's get elected.

    You sound foolish. You better be asking GOD to help if Romney wins......WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR

    September 28, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    Mickle – you'd best pray to Moroni - Mormons don't believe in the Christian God.

    September 28, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. bugmetoo

    I am not only voting against Oblamer, but also against the his control of the press. People are not hearing the
    truth in the news out there and are just voting for him because Hollywood loves him! Give me a break, he is a total f-up when it comes to foreign policy and the economy. WAKE UP AMERICA! GET OFF YOUR VIDEO GAMES AND LEARN SOMETHING!

    September 28, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. FactCheck

    God help us if Obama's get elected.

    Hey, if you are all for government keeping their hands off you and tax cuts out until forever, there is this nice place for folks like you. Somalia. Do us all a favor and book your tickets now.

    September 28, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Ancient Texan

    Dolan- You're 100% correct. But don't expect the "school children" of the DIM party that are cheering Obama and bashing Romney like the World situation is a grade school football game, to understand ONE single word of what you said. The uninformed and ignorant make up a much larger segment of our population than you would think, and sadly they vote. The debacle in Lybia doesn't register on them, but think that the First Couple" were "so cute" on the View.

    September 28, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. kim

    Where is the head of national security? Romney has no business talking to anybody about foreign policy. The man is a complete moron and is going to get someone killed or get a war started. While Republicans maybe craving a new war to support the military industrial complex, the rest of America would ratherlet Israel handle Iran. I think the world agrees that Israel would be better at it to begin with.

    September 28, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    Early voting next Tuesday in my state for Obama/Biden 2012.

    September 28, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. BBoy705


    "Supporting Israel is the best thing for USA. There is no USA without Israel. The president won't understand that because he is not an AMerican to begin with."

    Seriously?? "There is no USA without Israel" What world are you living on? That might be the most ridiculous statement ever posted!!

    September 28, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. bugmetoo

    Not only are Romney and Yahoo friends, but since the Obama administration blew him off, it's nice to know someone cares enough about Israel to talk to the man.

    September 28, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. Howard

    The Obama cover-up of the Libya terrorism, and murder of our Ambassador and Seals ... along with his throwing Israel under the bus ... is just one more reason why this poor excuse for a President ... has got to be dumped in November.

    September 28, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Rose

    An obligation, not pressure? I thought it was the pressure of having a soft position on Arab countries and not wanting to meet with an ally, that people started asking why, esp after our embassy in Libya wasn't protected and our ambassador was murdered.

    September 28, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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