Romney pulls punches in ABC News interview

September 14, 2012

While his advisers continue to attack President Obama on foreign policy, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has shifted his tone, refraining from drawing sharp contrasts with the White House on policy in the Middle East.  

In an interview with ABC News' "Good Morning America," Romney declined to attack Obama on tension with Iran and Egypt. While he stood by his earlier confrontational comments on the White House response to attacks in Egypt and Libya, on Friday he merely called a controversial statement from the Cairo embassy "inappropriate." He did not repeat his charge that the administration sympathized with the attackers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently criticized the White House for not setting "red lines" short of weaponization before Iran, a public display of ongoing tension between the two governments over the issue. But Romney did not exploit that tension in this morning's interview. 

“My red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon," Romney said. "It is inappropriate for them to have the capacity to terrorize the world."

When host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Obama had the same position and asked if Romney therefore had the same red line as Obama, the candidate answered, "Yes." The difference, Romney argued, was that under his presidency, sanctions against Iran would be "crippling" and he would stand with dissidents in Tehran.  

Romney also declined to attack Obama over his characterization of Egypt as not being an ally. He pointed out that the country is, officially, a non-NATO ally, but explained what the president seemed to mean in his comment.

"The president’s saying they are not may reflect the fact that there’s been a change in government and a change in relationship as a result of that," Romney said. "And what their status will be going forward in terms of the relationship with our nation is something which I’m sure will be developing over time."

However, Romney's restrained comments may be overshadowed by the words of adviser Richard Williamson, who suggested in an interview with The Post that the deadly protests would not have occurred if the Republican candidate were president.  
Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Rachel Weiner | September 14, 2012