Romney: Obama treating Israel with suspicion, distrust

Former governor launches White House bid saying US president "seems firmly, clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend, ally."

Mitt Romney 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mitt Romney 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Republican Mitt Romney made the long-anticipated announcement on Thursday that he is running for president, launching his bid in the state that will hold the first primary for the 2012 race.
On a farm in New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor lambasted US President Barack Obama’s policy on Israel and accused him of having “failed America.”
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“He seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend and ally,” he said of Obama’s stance toward the Jewish state. “He’s treating Israel the same way so many European countries have: with suspicion, distrust and an assumption that Israel is at fault.”
Romney also blasted Obama for traveling the world to “apologize” for America, for being weak on Libya and for failing to speak out on behalf of the dissidents in Iran.
The bulk of his attacks concerned the US economy, however, which is set to be the campaign’s major issue.
With his official kick-off, Romney, who also ran in 2008, cemented his place as the front-runner in a competition until now left to candidates who do not yet have his level of name recognition.
Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, current Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former speaker of the US House Newt Gingrich have already declared their candidacies, though big-name figures, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota representative, have yet to announce whether they will run or not.
Romney was widely seen as the runner- up to 2008 Republican candidate John McCain and is considered to have one of the best field and fundraising operations in the US.
At the same time, his more moderate record, role in bringing universal-health care to Massachusetts and Mormon background are all seen as potential political liabilities, particularly with Tea Party activists pulling Republicans further to the right.
In his previous presidential campaign, Romney took a hawkish line on foreign policy. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post during a 2007 campaign stop, he backed Israel’s right to make its own decisions and questioned how prepared the Palestinians were for peace.
“Israel is our friend and ally and is a key partner in the battle against radical, violent jihadism and terror,” he said in the interview. “And so our calculations in the Middle East must always include a thoughtful evaluation of the implications for our friends, including Israel.”
He also said, “It’s important to me that we not in any way place pressure on Israel to take action which would further weaken its negotiating hand.”