Share this article

print logo

Romney challenges president's Israel policy at tour stop

Standing in front of his campaign tour bus Saturday, Mitt Romney told religious conservatives he would do "the opposite" of what President Obama has done on Israel.

Taking some time out of his tour to address religious conservatives at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington via video uplink from Weatherly, Pa., he told the crowd he believes the president is more concerned about Israel attacking Iran than he is about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

His hawkish speech was the first time he has discussed policy toward Israel at length since becoming the likely Republican presidential nominee.

"I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite," Romney said when asked about Israel.

Of Iran, he said: "He's almost sounded like he's more frightened that Israel might take military action than he's concerned that Iran might become nuclear."

Democrats accused Romney of distorting Obama's record on Israel. Spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama has given Israel more security assistance than any other administration and has stood with Israel at the United Nations.

Romney spent most of Saturday appealing to voters in Pennsylvania, a battleground state he said he would win in the fall.

"I am going to win Pennsylvania," he told a cheering crowd in Cornwall, a small town in the center of the state, as his campaign bus rolled through on the second day of a five-day, six-state tour.

Romney's bus continued on to Quakertown, where Democratic protests forced him to take a detour. Romney rerouted his tour after former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and several other Democratic officials held a news conference outside the Wawa gas station where the former Massachusetts governor had planned an early afternoon stop. Protesters gathered outside the store.

So Romney decided to visit a different Wawa store.

"Why we're at this Wawa, instead of the other Wawa?" Romney said as he paid for a meatball hoagie. "I understand I had a surrogate over there already, so we decided to pick a different place. My surrogate is former Gov. Rendell, who said we could win Pennsylvania."

Instead of making prepared remarks to the crowd gathered outside the first location -- Romney's advance team had set up a microphone -- the Republican's bus went instead to the second Quakertown Wawa where he took a quick tour of the store.

The detour threw Romney off the jobs-and-economy message he had been pushing earlier in the day.

"I think we have to have a very careful review of who's giving a fair shot to the American people," he told a crowd of several hundred packed into a warehouse at Weatherly Casting and Machine Co.

He appeared with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible running mate, who told the Weatherly crowd, "Mitt Romney's message is: It will be better."

Romney also took time to do an interview for CBS News' "Face the Nation" program, which will air today. It will mark the first time he has appeared on a weekend political talk show since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.

Romney told host Bob Schieffer that the president's decision to allow some young illegal immigrants to stay in the country instead of deporting them was a largely political move.

"If (Obama) really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first 3 1/2 years, not in his last few months," he said.

Meanwhile, Obama in his weekly radio and Internet address said GOP lawmakers "haven't lifted a finger" on many of the ideas he sent to Congress last year to put Americans back to work. He said there is no excuse for inaction just because it's an election year.

He said every problem the nation faces is "within our power to solve."

"What's lacking is our politics," he added.