Mitt Romney talks tough, says US must stand with Israel
Mitt Romney is attempting to balance religion, , courtship of financial donors and tough rhetoric during his visit to Israel, declaring a harsh tone on Sunday. Romney stated firmly that the U.S. should stand firmly behind Israel if it chooses military action to thwart Iran’s progression toward a nuclear weapon.
Romney argued in a speech that Tehran’s ayatollahs “are testing our moral defenses” and monitoring “who will object” and “who will look the other way.”
“We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries,” said Romney, the walls of the Old City lining the hilltop behind him.
“We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you,” he said.
Romney did not go as far as his senior foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor, who said earlier: “If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision.”
The aide’s comments put Romney at odds with Obama’s efforts to press Israel to avoid any pre-emptive strike before tough Western economic sanctions against Iran run their course.
Romney, however, refused to repeat them when asked by CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“Well I think because I’m on foreign soil I don’t want to be creating new foreign policy for my country or in any way to distance myself in the foreign policy of our nation. But we respect the right of a nation to defend itself,” Romney said.
The failure of talks between Iran and six world powers to secure a breakthrough in curbing what the West fears is a drive to develop nuclear weapons has raised international concern that Israel may opt for a military strike.
Romney ends his trip on Monday with a fundraiser for a crowd of mostly Jewish Americans who live in Israel.
The Romney campaign initially declared the fundraiser off-limits to reporters, but on Sunday said it would allow press coverage after journalists complained the campaign was reneging on a prior agreement to open more of its finance events.