‘Standing Ovation’: Here’s What You Need to Know About Mitt Romney’s Trip to Israel
Standing on Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
“Make no mistake, the ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way,” he said. “We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel.”
The Old City formed a made-for-television backdrop behind Romney, while some of his campaign donors listened in the audience.
Here are clips from the speech on Iran:
Romney’s declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital follows an awkward exchange last week where White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to say where exactly the White House believes the capital of Israel to be.
And Romney’s remarks drew a standing ovation from his audience, according to the Associated Press.
But the presidential candidate’s embrace of Israel was on display all day, as he met with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and other leaders. The Israeli press, normally somewhat left-leaning, was more curious about Romney and his relationship with Netanyahu than critical, according to reports.
The Washington correspondent for the Israeli site Haaretz explained: “I don’t think they know [Romney] that deep — but they are suspicious enough of President Obama to express some hopes for Romney as possible leader of the free world.”
Today’s Haaretz headline reads: “In Jerusalem speech it was Romney’s voice but Netanyahu’s words: Netanyahu embraces Romney as no prime minister has ever embraced a candidate running against an incumbent U.S. president.”
Politico sums it up: “Given Obama’s frosty relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Romney’s relationship with ‘Bibi’ — which dates back to their time as colleagues at Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s — formed a cornerstone of Israeli press coverage over the weekend.”
Romney also visited the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, and held a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Romney steered clear of overt criticism of the president during his remarks, but made it clear that he doesn’t buy Obama’s narrative.
“It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from security nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war…The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers,” Romney said.
Israel is the second of three stops on an international trip for Romney in the weeks before he claims the Republican nomination at his party’s national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Robert Gibbs said on ABC’s “This Week” that the administration has delayed Iran’s nuclear program through its various diplomatic initiatives, but Netanyahu countered before Romney’s speech that “all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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