Republican candidates at debate 22 Nov 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
WASHINGTON - US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said
Tuesday that his first foreign trip as president would be to Israel.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said during a Republican foreign policy
debate that US President Barack Obama had been unfriendly to Israel.
Republican candidates vow to stop Iran nuclear bomb
Santorum says all Palestinians are Israelis
"The right course for Israel is to care about Israel," he said during
the debate with seven other contenders for the GOP nod, held in
Washington. "My first foreign trip will be to Israel to show we care
Obama has not visited Israel as president. He visited Cairo early in his
term to deliver an appeal for friendship to the Muslim world
Another candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, said he would
likely make Israel his first stop, although his first foreign policy
priority would be to counter anti-American trends in Latin America.
Among the questions raised at the debate, co-sponsored by CNN, the
American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, was whether
the candidates would join Israel in an attack on Iran to stop it from
obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Herman Cain, a businessman, said that he would once he had assessed Israel's mission as sufficiently clear.
Newt Gingrich, the former US House of Representatives speaker, said that he
would join such an endeavor only if it were a last resort and he was
certain it would result in regime change.
He added that not supporting Israel could be dangerous in such a situation,
because should Israel feel abandoned, it might resort to nuclear weapon
attacks on Iran. Israel does not acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons
and has always maintained it will not be the first nation in the region
to use them.
The only other candidate to address the question, Rep. Ron Paul
(R-Texas), said that he would not join Israel, but added that he did not
believe Israel would launch a strike.