Romney reaches for Jewish, Catholic voters after his foreign trip

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seeking to capitalize on his recent trip abroad with renewed outreach efforts to Jews and Catholics.

The Romney campaign on Wednesday launched the Jewish Americans for Romney coalition following his trip to Israel. The move follows Tuesday's announcement from the leaders of the Catholics for Romney coalition in the wake of his visit to Poland, where he praised former Pope John Paul II.

“Having just visited Israel at a critical juncture in the history of the Middle East, I am persuaded that now, more than ever, America needs to stand with Israel,” Romney said in a statement announcing the Jewish coalition. “I will extend the hand of friendship because our partnership is not merely a strategic alliance but a force for good in the world.”

Romney has been sharply critical of the Obama administration's approach to Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, even as the White House argues Romney hasn't spelled out what he'd do differently. During a trip to Israel over the weekend, he vowed a tough stance on Iran.

“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.”

Romney also reached out to Catholic Americans on Tuesday, when he announced the co-chairs of his Catholics for Romney coalition: former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See Frank Shakespeare, Tom Melady, Ray Flynn, Jim Nicholson, Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon. In a letter to Catholics, the six co-chairs praised Romney's stance against the healthcare law's birth-control mandate, gay marriage and abortion rights.

“In the election of 2012, this conviction has united all of us — each a former ambassador of the United States to the Holy See — in support of Governor Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president,” they wrote. “Whatever issues might dominate the presidential campaign from now until November, our concerns lie with fundamental rights, beginning with religious liberty.”

Democrats have assailed Romney's trip, which took him to Britain, Israel and Poland over six days. They have derided the “gaffes” the presidential candidate made in appearing to criticize Britain's readiness for the Olympic games and suggesting that Israelis were culturally superior to Palestinians.

The trip to three friendly countries was aimed squarely at raising money at home, Polish-American Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said Monday as Romney met with human-rights icon and former President Lech Walesa.

Kaptur called the trip “nothing more than a superficial diversion and a desperate attempt to pander to Polish Americans and Catholics across our country."

"This trip is not going to change the November election," she predicted.