WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is seeking to capitalize on his recent trip to Israel with a new ad featuring him on that visit.

The ad opens by asking viewers, “Who shares your values?” and raps Barack Obama for never visiting Israel while president.

Obama last visited in 2008 as a candidate.



“Mitt Romney will be a different kind of president, a strong leader who stands by our allies,” the ad’s narrator intones.

The Obama campaign quickly pounced on the Republican candidate’s ad, releasing a statement by Alan Solow, Obama for America campaign co-chair and former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, firing back.

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“When Mitt Romney says he will be a ‘different kind of president’ then voters have reason to be concerned,” Solow said in the statement. “Does he mean he would cut Israel’s largest ever security aid package or does it mean he would not build a coalition of allies to implement the harshest sanctions Iran has ever seen?”

On Iran, however, the Obama campaign faced its own challenges on Monday. The Washington Post reported that a senior White House advisor had been paid a hefty speaking fee by a company with ties to Iran.

David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and a White House staffer since 2011, received $100,000 payment from MTN for two appearances in Nigeria in 2010, according to the Post.

MTN had at that point been in a publicly reported partnership with an Iranian telecommunications company, Irancell, that the Treasury determined was owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Post reported.

Those types of relationships are likely to be affected by new sanctions legislation passed by Congress and awaiting the president’s signature.

The bill aims to punish international companies doing business with key Iranian sectors, a practice long outlawed for American firms. There is no indication Plouffe’s activities were illegal under current law.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz told the Post that Plouffe had given two speeches on mobile technology and digital communication to MTN company leadership.

“At the time, not even the most zealous watchdog group on this issue had targeted the Iranian business interests of the host’s holding company,” the paper quoted him as saying.

The Obama campaign responded to the story by raising questions about Romney’s own business dealings and those of his advisors, charging that the candidate had failed to divest from Iran-connected businesses until long after he pledged to do so.

“We’re happy to have a debate over what clients Mitt Romney’s advisors have chosen to advise – from human rights abusers to Chinese oil companies – but what is more significant is Romney’s own failure to keep his word when it came to Iran divestment,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

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