By Justin Sink - 10/26/12 05:56 PM EDT
"The President understands the threats that Israel continues to face and has worked tirelessly to ensure Israel’s security, affirming the United States’ special relationship with Israel in both his words and deeds. One of the ways he has done this is by bringing the international community together to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran in history, and making it clear that he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon," the Obama campaign said in a statement.
"The reason I call it an apology tour ... you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And ... you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region," Romney says.
The president consistently dominated pre-debate polls of Jewish voters — regularly pulling between 65 and 70 percent — but the Romney campaign believes it may be able to erode that support. Romney has frequently touted his personal friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and accused the president of not devoting enough attention to the ally.
On Thursday night during an interview with NBC News, Obama brushed off suggestions he should have visited Israel.
"The truth of the matter is, there are a number of countries I didn't visit. I visited Israel just a couple of months before I was president," Obama said. "Given how important I think the situation in the Middle East is and our partnership with Israel, which is stronger than it’s ever been, when I go to Israel, I want to make sure that we are actually moving something forward.”
The Romney campaign fired back with a statement calling Obama's Middle East foreign policy a "failure."
"After promising to make peace a top priority, the president sought to place ‘daylight’ between the United States and Israel, and failed to engage in the peace process," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. "His excuse for not visiting Israel is that ‘there are a number of countries’ he ‘didn't visit.’ But President Obama fails to recognize that Israel isn’t just any other country — it is our closest ally in the Middle East. As President, Mitt Romney’s first overseas trip will be to Jerusalem, and under a Romney Administration, the world will never question America’s solidarity with Israel.”