But as he has done throughout the campaign, he cast the Iranian threat in dire terms, using sharp language in an effort to differentiate his worldview from Obama’s.
“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,” Romney continued. “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with you.”
The presumptive nominee delivered his address after a series of meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian officials and network television interviews. He visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of Judaism’s holiest religious sites, where he left a prayer note in a crease in the wall as he marked the fasting holiday of Tisha B’av.
Sunday was a carefully choreographed day — campaign aides arrayed 64 alternating U.S. and Israeli flags to line the open-air speech venue, symbolizing the 64 years that Israel has existed — designed to help Romney broaden his appeal to Jewish American voters and other supporters of Israel, including evangelical Christians. Obama won the Jewish vote by a wide margin in 2008 and still holds an edge among the group in recent polling.
In his speech, Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because it is claimed by Israelis and Palestinians. Israel occupied East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it soon after — an act not recognized internationally.
The United States maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, as do many other nations, and Romney’s remarks were a tacit criticism of White House press secretary Jay Carney, who last week told a pair of journalists who asked him to name Israel’s capital that they already knew the answer, declining to comment further.
In his remarks Sunday, Romney outlined a more aggressive U.S. posture toward the United States’ and Israel’s shared antagonists, but he did not offer any new policy specifics. Instead, he offered a historic survey of U.S.-Israel relations since the birth of the Jewish state in 1948 and pledged, as Obama has done as recently as Friday, an unconditional defense of Israel’s security.