Mitt Romney said in the debate that President Obama was “silent” about Iranian repression during the failed “Green Revolution” in 2009, a charge that Obama quickly disputed.
At a White House news conference in June 2009, Obama was asked whether he had a message for “people who are on the streets protesting, who believe their votes were stolen and who are being attacked violently?”
Obama replied that Iranians must make decisions about their leaders, and “want to avoid the United States being the issue inside Iran.” He added that he was “deeply troubled” by the violence.
“I think that the democratic process -- free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected. And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they’re, rightfully, troubled.”
Obama said he’s always believed that “as odious as I consider some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements, as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on a range of core issues, that the use of tough, hard-headed diplomacy -- diplomacy with no illusions about Iran and the nature of the differences between our two countries -- is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of our national security interests, specifically, making sure that we are not seeing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East triggered by Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, making sure that Iran is not exporting terrorist activity. Those are core interests not just to the United States but I think to a peaceful world in general.”
“We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us. But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days. And what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching.”