Mitt Romney, during a speech in Jerusalem, pledged unflinching U.S. support for Israel as president, saying the two allied nations are “bound together” and determined to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
“I believe that the enduring alliance between the state of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world,” Romney said in summing up a speech that betrayed no daylight between the two countries.
“America's support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones,” he said. “No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth: A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.”
Yet Romney’s speech was full of implicit reminders of the critique he has leveled at Obama for years: that he has failed to slow Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and that his administration’s occasionally fraught relationship with the Israeli government has undermined the security of the Jewish state.
“With Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel from the north, and Hamas rockets aimed from the south, with much of the Middle East in tumult, and with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America's vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical,” Romney said. “Whenever the security of Israel is most in doubt, America's commitment to Israel must be most secure.”
Romney was typically forceful when it came to Iran. Preventing the regime in Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon “must be our highest national security priority,” he said. “That threat has only become worse,” Romney said, since he first outlined his views on Iran five years ago.
“We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option,” Romney said. “We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. 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 added.
Romney’s visit to Israel is the second stop on a foreign trip that has taken him to the United Kingdom and a scheduled visit to Poland on Monday.
He met with top Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and said he shared their concerns about the threat from a nuclear-armed Iran.
Earlier Sunday, a top Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor said the GOP candidate would back an Israeli military strike prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” Senor said to reporters.
Romney gingerly took a step back from those comments in an interview with CBS. He avoided repeating his aide’s remarks or talk of a strike, saying that he would “use my own words, and that is I respect the right of Israel to defend itself, and we stand with Israel.”