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. Ann Marie

    to you even have a clue as to what an idiot your are?

    September 28, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Why are we allowing Romney to even be in the same room with actual leaders? He couldn't even take a short trip without causing trouble across Europe and the Mid-East! The GOP is pretending to have an actual candidate but he needs to be restricted to those duties reserved for a spoiled, shallow, flip-flopping, lap-dog for the rich. "You can dress him up but you can't send him to town!".

    September 28, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. i'm confused

    Benji Netanyahu says "speak", Mittens The Clown says "bark bark"... Benji Netanyahu says "jump", Mittens The Clown asks "how high sir?". That's right Benji Netanyahu's female dog can actually speak English and that should impress you enough to vote Benji Netanyahu's female dog as our next President of These United States of America!!!!!!!!

    September 28, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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."
    Au contraire Mittens. President Obama's "noise" comment was "the latest evidence of his chornic disregard for" YOU!
    Obama 2012.

    September 28, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. bob

    I don't think Romney endearing himself to this guy is going to win him any votes. If he weren't so out of touch with every day americans, he would know that no one wants another war. Not democrats or republicans. Netanyahu wants an easy president to get the war he's been crying for forever. Obama hasn't given him that.

    September 28, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Humanity4All

    It was completely unnecessary for President to spend 20 min on the phone with a leader who has personal agenda and no better than other leaders with personal agenda. No need to support the investors of Mitt Romney.

    September 28, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Dave in Columbus

    Romney has NO BUSINESS telephoning the Netanyahu; this was way out of line. He is only a candidate and does not speak for this country. This only reinforces that this person is unfit for the presidency of the United States. And this does not even include the fact that he flip-flops and has a lier as a running mate. I am 72 years old and have been a life-long Republican until this disaster; so, I have so willingly contributed to the candidate who will lead this country forward–B Obama. And I am not one of the 47% who Romney has written off. I have provided for myself with hard work; but I was totally offended by his callous remarks. He needs to spend some time working for his meals and lodging. What a miserable example he sets for the country.

    September 28, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. PJ

    Mitt Romney has absolutely no reason to be discussing foreign affairs with any leader of any Country. I wouldn't
    put it past Netanyahu to tell Romney everything that was said between him and President Obama. No, I don't
    trust Bibi and I sure as heck don't trust Mitt Romney.
    Just as Romney doesn't know what is happening, neither do any of you hateful bloggers. If both of you would
    get you head out of the Fox box, you might learn how to be reasonable. But truth never seems to be of any
    interest to you or Romney.

    September 28, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You're nothing but "noise" Romney, for President Obama, for us, for Netanyahu.
    And just like noise you're unwanted, aggravating, and useless.
    We're going to do the world a favor when we no longer have to listen to it after November 6th.
    We're turning you off.
    Obama 2012.

    September 28, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. truth hurts

    Romney needs to be involved. Once he wins in November, he'll have to deal with the middle east mess Obama has caused and left him ALONG with the domestic economy and jobs in a shambles.

    September 28, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    a right wingnut posted God help us if Obama is elected. Obama was elected, and since the worthless republicans refused to help us get out of the mess they created, it appears that God did help us.

    September 28, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Romney has instructed Iran how to attack us with a dirty bomb, invested in a Chinese oil company doing business almost exclusively with Iran, and keeps his money overseas. I really think our real enemy is Mittens the tax evader and money launderer.

    September 28, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. vet in tx

    I want one conservative to explain to me and the rest of the posters here one thing:

    If we bomb Iran, what will happen next?
    Hint, we won't be using any nuclear weapons there, just conventional bunker busters on strategic again I ask:

    If we bomb Iran, what will happen next?

    September 28, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. CBR

    Israel and the USA do share a special relationship. We are good partners and we all know that. It should not be necessary for our President to meet with Mr. Netanyahu in NY. The trip to NY was to go to the UN to speak to all nations. No one nation should be singled out for a meeting at this time. We do have many allies in the UN. This is not 1938 and containment is not an option. What options there are need to be discussed with our allies to make sure we are all willing to work together. We cannot go into a country unilaterally or with only a few allies. Out military men and women should not be deployed again unless there is an extreme reason.

    September 28, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. Charles

    The right just can't wait to start another war. Who has Iran EVER invaded?

    September 28, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Between the Kochs, Rove, Adelson, Fox foreign owned media, and Netanyahu; Mittens just doesn't know what to say or do.

    September 28, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Annirich


    I personally think it is absurd that Mitt Romney, a person who is unemployed and does not have a govt position, which questions his security clearance status, is receiving intel briefs on world security issues. I can understand Paul Ryan being briefed as he is a govt employee, but not some one term former governor.

    uh...then you should really be upset by Huma Abedin whose family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood as Hillary's Dept Chief of Staff and confidant for how many years now???

    September 28, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republicans are shouting for war, but they still hate our troops and our veterans.

    September 28, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Bob

    This is astonishing, a foreign leader trying to influence the elections in the US to try to force his will on this country and no one complains! On the contrary you have Mr. Romney who presently does not hold elective office acting like he speaks for the country colluding with said leader. If it were the other way around the republicans would be hysteric decrying foreign intervention. Does Romney have no shame?

    September 28, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Khaleeshi

    President Obama is handling this just fine – he'll help resolve the conflict between Iran and Israel without war. Romney's practically salivating at the prospect of war. We don't need chickhawk Willard anywhere near the decision making process. Just look at how he's running his campaign to get some insight on his real business expertise.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 28, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Every time Mitt Romney speaks he makes it very clear that he is not qualified to be president.

    September 28, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Israel wants us to fight their wars all the time.... And if the sitting President doesn't jump when Israel says to; then all of a sudden we, Americans don't support them. The land they occupy doesn't even belong them! Mr. President stop being afraid of what American Jews might think. We give Israel 5 billion a year to do what they please. They are the only country in the world who can spend the money any way they want to. And lastly, the only reason the Arab world dislikes us is because of our support for Israel; and lack of support for the Palestians!!!!!!

    September 28, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Don

    Why does romney think he has the right to talk to International figure-heads as though he is President? This man is most annoying and arrogant. Why would they even care what he has to say over OUR President?

    September 28, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Rob - NYC

    If GWB was in office right now, we'd be at war with Iran. This country is tired of war! In fact, is cost us money each time we need to help another country in distress by way of supplies or troops. People here are OUT OF A JOB, myself included. Do you think that we can afford to go to war? Again... for WMD. I'm sure Obama must be saying "look Nethanyahooo, I'm not Bush, I need evidence of WMDs before I make a decision!"

    September 28, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Thinker23

    vet in tx... I want YOU to explain to me and the rest of the posters here one thing:

    If we bomb Iran, what will happen next?
    Hint, Iran WILL be using nuclear weapons there...

    September 28, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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