During Visit to Israel, Romney Endorses Hard Line Against Iran

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  July 30, 2012 at 9:34 AM EDT

Mitt Romney; photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Mitt Romney delivers a speech Sunday outside the Old City in Jerusalem. Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

During his visit Sunday in Jerusalem, Mitt Romney endorsed the use of “any and all measures” by the United States and Israel to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a threat the presumptive Republican presidential nominee deemed America’s “highest national security priority.”

“We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions,” Romney said. “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option.”

The New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren and Ashley Parker note the “subtle differences” between Romney’s comments and the positions laid out by President Obama’s administration:

The speech, delivered at dusk overlooking the Old City, was short on policy prescriptions, as Mr. Romney tried to adhere to an unwritten code suggesting that candidates not criticize each other on foreign soil. But there were subtle differences between what he said — and how he said it — and the positions of his opponent.

While the Obama administration typically talks about stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Mr. Romney adopted the language of Israel’s leaders, who say Tehran must be prevented from even having the capability to develop one.

The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Joel Greenberg highlight another, more direct, criticism of the Obama administration:

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.

Romney’s tough talk toward Iran is designed to grow his support among Jewish-American voters. A Gallup poll released in June found that President Obama held a 64 percent to 29 percent advantage over Romney among Jewish voters. That was down , however, from Mr. Obama’s 74 percent to 23 percent lead over Sen. John McCain in a survey taken before the 2008 election.

The Associated Press also writes up a Monday morning fundraiser hosted by Romney, during which he told Jewish donors that their culture was part of what had helped them achieve greater economic success than the Palestinians.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” Romney told the donors.

Those remarks were met with swift criticism by Palestinian leaders. “What is this man doing here?” said Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official. “Yesterday, he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than Palestinian culture. Isn’t this racism?”

The final leg of Romney’s overseas trip takes him to Poland on Monday, where he will meet with the country’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, and former President Lech Walesa.

Why the stop in Poland? It’s not random, says the Atlantic. It’s all about Russian rockets, Ronald Reagan and Grand Rapids.

And NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner blogged about Romney’s foreign trip. “It’s a rocky, mine-strewn world out there. Maybe his predecessors in the presidential-challenger business knew something after all,” Margaret wrote, referring to all the candidates who didn’t take trips abroad while running.

LAY OF THE LAND

The big papers this weekend took stock of the presidential campaign with 100 days to go until Election Day.

The Post’s front-page effort was impressive, with five reporters trekking to battleground states to listen to voters about their concerns. That story focused on the undecided voters who just aren’t sure what to do and provided a window into a critical portion of the electorate.

The Post also published a series of nifty graphics comparing the race to previous contests shaped by the economy and looking at campaign ad spending.

The teams in Chicago and Boston amped up, with Team Romney posting another localized version of the “These Hands” web videos, this one focusing on Ohio. The campaign on Monday has 18 “We Did Build This” events across 12 states. In most cases, Romney is deploying top surrogates to speak on his behalf while he’s abroad, events that double as vice presidential auditioning.

Team Obama used this peppy web video to fire up grassroots volunteers over the weekend. The effort was part of the “It Takes One” push that first lady Michelle Obama has been taking across the country to get people to knock on doors, make calls and boost the campaign. The Obama campaign boasted more than 4,700 events. An aide said volunteers “came from 6,734 different zip codes, 3,518 different cities or towns and 952 different counties to talk with their neighbors in communities, at barber shops, restaurants and churches, and local field offices in all 50 states.”

NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli compiled a batch of panoramic images depicting scenes from the presidential campaign trail. Check it out here or below. Make sure to click all the way through for a little preview of the NewsHour’s convention coverage.

MARK AND DAVID REUNITED

Mark Shields and David Brooks were both in the studio Friday night. They talked about the dismal economic growth and how that looks for the president.

Judy Woodruff asked if Mr. Obama is speaking about the economy in the right way, and Mark said the president’s only option is to draw a contrast between himself and Romney.

David said Mr. Obama “missed a historic chance” to speak about it effectively:

This was a couple of years ago. He could have said the stuff he is beginning to say, which is, when you have financial crisis, you have a lot of years of slow growth. And we are going to take advantage of this winter of recuperation to fix the structural things. You say, we count on the cyclical stuff, but we are going to fix the structures, the tax system, the entitlement system, the middle-class jobs, the education. And so he could say to the American people, OK, listen, it’s going to be tough for a couple years, but we are going to get our house in order and fix the deep structural problems that plague this economy.

And if he had said that, I think he would have won himself a bunch of time. Remember, even in this time, the unemployment rate for college grads is around 4 percent. It’s the high school grads and not the college grads who are really suffering. And that suggests something deep and structural, not just cyclical.

And I think the president missed a historic opportunity to talk about those deep structural issues and show that you’re serious about them.

Mark and David did agree, however, that Romney’s trip abroad was a mistake.

“It’s been a gift to President Obama, this trip. It’s an unforced error,” Mark said. “[T]he trip makes no sense to me, except for domestic political consideration. I think it draws attention, quite frankly, to the dressage factor. That is Mrs. Romney and Gov. Romney’s…horse, which is not Joe Six-Pack, let’s have a beer at the corner market, for a candidate who doesn’t relate.”

Watch the guys here or below:

Since Mark and David were here in studio, we did a Doubleheader on the politics of sport and the sport of politics. Hari Sreenivasan was out, so Christina did the honor. Mark dishes on his favorite Olympic sport and each predicted whom Romney will select as a running mate.

Watch here or below:

Next week, the regular gang will be back together. Tune in!

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • David Brody posts video from the 1994 senatorial debate in which Romney says he is against the Republican Party’s effort to lower the federal capital gains tax.

  • “I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes, and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall,” Romney told ABC News this weekend.

  • Howard Kurtz takes Newsweek readers into Sen. McCain’s inner circle to reveal that he has not been offered a speaking slot at the Republican National Committee and how he called Romney to ask him to tone down his rhetoric on illegal immigration after one of the debates.

  • In an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, former Vice President Dick Cheney said McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 was “a mistake.”

  • The Hill’s Molly Hooper raises the question of whether ex-Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican seeking the presidency on the Constitution Party ticket, could play a Virginia spoiler for Romney.

  • NPR examined how most voters have fully formed opinions about the president but are not as informed about Romney and how advertising could shift that dynamic.

  • The pro-Romney Restore our Future super PAC has a new radio ad slamming the president on the economy and his attack ads. It’s a one-week, $1 million campaign running in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

  • Luke Rosiak of the Washington Times reports on the families who donate to opposing campaigns.

  • Roll Call’s David Drucker outlines Team Romney’s fundraising strategy that allows them to collect as much cash as possible across the board.

  • The online petition to get a female moderator for one of the official presidential debates is picking up steam.

  • The White House responds to rumors: The Churchill bust is still there, in America.

  • In Newsweek, Michael Tomasky wonders if Romney is a wimp. Romney responded Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Justice Antonin Scalia dished this weekend on his gun control interpretation and the health care mandate.

  • The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe outlines the five things to watch this week in Congress before lawmakers depart for a month-long summer recess.

  • NewsHour coordinating producer Linda J. Scott notes that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has promised a vote on the president’s tax cut proposal, even as the GOP seeks to extend tax cuts for everyone and not just people earning $250,000 or less. She reports that the Republicans will seek to expedite the vote so they can campaign on it this fall.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a new online ad campaign focused on the tax cuts vote and aimed at 23 House Republicans.

  • Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., revealed he is being evaluated for depression and gastrointestinal issues at Mayo Clinic.

  • House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., will be undergoing chemotherapy to treat the early stages of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Gwen Ifill on the passing of Bill Rasberry.

  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser has the lede of the morning: “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is fond of asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ The American Midwest is asking, ‘Where is the rain?’”

  • Politico’s Alex Isenstadt writes about the totally bizarre super PAC-funded GOP primary against freshman Rep. Diane Black in Tennessee, which is focused on Sharia law.

  • Politico’s John Bresnahan reports on Massachusetts Democratic Rep. John Tierney’s scramble to save his U.S. House seat.

  • Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets involved in the battle over Chick-Fil-A.

Katelyn Polantz and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney participates in a photo spray with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Gdansk at 10:15 a.m. and meets with former Polish President Lech Walesa at 11:20 a.m. He also visits the World War II Westerplatte Memorial at 11:50 a.m. and the Solidarity Monument Site at 12:55 p.m.

  • President Obama participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony at the White House at 1:45 p.m. He also delivers remarks at a campaign event in New York City at 8:05 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden attends a campaign event in Chicago at 2:15 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.