Shortly after President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mitt Romney argued in Georgia that the president’s approach to Iran had failed the American people and made the nation less secure.
“If Barack Obama is reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change,” Romney told a crowd of more than a 1,000 people at a pancake breakfast that his campaign hosted in this Altanta suburb.
Romney, who flew to Georgia from Ohio and was headed to Tennessee, mocked Obama’s speech earlier on Sunday at AIPAC, accusing the president of doing little to address Iran’s nuclear threat and charging that he had missed an opportunity when dissidents took the streets in Tehran.
When an 11-year-old boy asked the candidate how he would keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Romney said Obama had not imposed “crippling sanctions against Iran.” “He’s also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it’s unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
“I will have those military options. I will take those crippling sanctions and put them into place,” he said. “And I will speak out to the Iranian people of the peril of them becoming nuclear …. I’m not willing to allow your generation to have to worry about a threat from Iran or anyone else that nuclear material be used against Americans.”
The Republican candidate noted that he had outlined seven steps the U.S. should take to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon at the Herzliya Conference in Israel four years ago: “We haven’t taken those steps.”
Obama won a standing ovation at AIPAC on Sunday when he said Israel had a right to make its own foreign policy decisions and that the U.S. would prevent Iran from getting a bomb, not merely contain that threat. Some attendees said they had hoped he would taken a stronger stance on the Iranian threat to Israel.
During a question-and-answer session with voters during his pancake breakfast, Romney also addressed the turmoil in Syria, stating that he did not favor “direct military intervention” in that nation at this stage. He said Syria has played an outsized role in that region of the world as Iran’s “only Arab ally” and its route to the sea.
“Syria putting aside Assad and becoming a more representative form of government would be a very good thing for the world and for America and for the Syrians,” he said. “So we should be doing everything in our power to encourage those that are looking for freedom in Syria. That could include covert activities of various kinds, it could include working with the Turks and the Saudis who are very anxious also to put pressure on Syria to take a change in course.”
“But at this stage, I’m not anxious to employ military action,” he added. “But we’ll keep our options open.”