Obama reaffirms commitment to Israel's security

US president officially accepts Democratic Party nomination, affirms commitment to the pursuit of peace.

Biden, Obama accepting presidential nomination 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Biden, Obama accepting presidential nomination 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- US President Barack Obama accepted the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party Thursday night to rapturous cheers from an audience that showed none of the ambivalence that has dogged the incumbent in polls.
In a summation of his achievements in office -- from passing health care reform to ending "don't ask, don't tell" to killing Osama bin Laden -- Obama stressed that he has more to accomplish and could only do so with the help of the audience and the American people.
Obama tried to muster the soaring rhetoric and inspirational tropes that helped bring him to victory in 2008, but he also spent time taking down his GOP adversary, Mitt Romney, and his party's policies, including on foreign affairs.
"My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy," Obama said, stressing the word "new" and eliciting a derisive laugh from the audience, "but from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly."
He also suggested Romney hadn't properly prioritized the threats America faces.
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"You don't call Russia our number one enemy – not al-Qaida, Russia – unless you're still stuck in a Cold War time warp," he said.
Romney, for his part, had attacked his Democratic challenger in his own acceptance speech in Tampa last week for abandoning Israel and being weak on Iran.
On Thursday night, Obama stressed, "Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace."
He continued, "The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions."
In listing his accomplishments on the global stage, Obama pointed to the death of Osama bin Laden, the end of the war in Iraq and advancing "the rights and dignity of all human beings -- men and women, Christians and Muslims and Jews."
Obama's comments came on the heels of a fiasco over the language in the Democratic Party regarding Jerusalem. After Democratic members of Congress joined Republicans in criticizing the DNC for taking out the 2008 platform's language on US support for Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a hastily scheduled amendment process Wednesday night saw the 2008 phrasing on Jerusalem reinserted.
Republicans continued to criticize the DNC even after the change was made, with Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul calling on Obama to make his own statement on the subject.
"Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital," she said.
Obama, however, did not address Jerusalem or any final-status issues in his remarks, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has been at the center of the controversy, did not refer to Israel at all.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who was the one receiving the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, also took to the stage Thursday night to blast Romney in a speech devoted entirely to foreign policy.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rumored to be under contention for secretary of state in a second Obama administration, ripped the GOP for having "lied" time and again about the president's stance on Israel.
"Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel to tighten sanctions on Iran -- and take nothing off the table," Kerry said.
He quoted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bolster his case, referencing the PM's words that the two countries have the same policy and that security cooperation has been unprecedented under the current administration.
Then Kerry delivered one of the many zingers he directed at Romney throughout his speech: "When it comes to Israel, I'll take the word of Israel's prime minister over Mitt Romney any day."In another dig, he called the "extreme and expedient" Romney and his vice presidential runningmate Paul Romney "the most inexperienced foreign policy twosome to run for president and vice president in decades."
And he parried the question Repulicans repeatedly asked at their convention last week in Tampa -- are you better off now than you were four years ago -- with the line: "Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago!"
Kerry also took aim at the "neocon advisors" Romney has included among his foreign policy team."He would rely on them -- after all, he's the great outsourcer," he said.
The Republican convention repeatedly touched on theme of American exceptionalism, as GOP politicians argued that Obama didn't understand America's special opportunities and role in the world.
Kerry responded to Romney's assertion that he would restore American exceptionalism by declaring that he had news for him: "We already have an exceptional American as president."
The Romney campaign, anticipating that Kerry would be delivering a speech devoted to foreign policy, released a memo attacking Obama on 10 foreign policy areas.
"Failure #1," the memo charges, "No results in slowing or stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program."
It points to the increase in enrichment activities and spinning centrifuges while Obama has been in office. And it scores him for not more strenuously supporting opposition groups challenging the Iranian government and fruitlessly pursuing engagement.
It also charges that the administration "has given the Iranians no reason to believe it is serious about a military option."
Instead, the memo contends, it "seems to have devoted more energy toward preventing an Israeli strike on Iran than toward preventing an Iranian nuclear weapons capability."
The memo devotes a second section to a "damaged" relationship with Israel and a "moribund" peace process. The campaign particularly jumped on Obama for "deriding" Netanyahu during a conversation with then French President Nicholas Sarkozy caught on an open microphone.
In one of the more touching moments of the convention Thursday night, Gabrielle Giffords took the stage to deliver the pledge of allegiance.
Walking slowly to the podium, she led an estatic audience in the 31-word oath. The Jewish former Congresswoman, who was shot by a crazed gunmen while meeting with her Arizona constituents one and a half years ago, left the stage to chants of "Gabby! Gabby!"