GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry came out swinging Wednesday with statements critical of President Obama's handling of the U.S. relationship with Israel, and his administration's policy toward Iran. The statements come a day after reports of an open mic picking up comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his statement, Romney says Obama is "disdainful of our special relationship of our special relationship with Israel."
In the aftermath of a U.N. report that documented Iran's progress toward making a nuclear weapon, Perry said Obama's policy on Iran "based on outreach and limited sanctions, has failed."
The statements come less than two weeks before CNN hosts a debate with the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation devoted to national security issues.
Statement from Mitt Romney issued by his campaign -
“President Obama’s derisive remarks about Israel’s Prime Minister confirm what any observer would have gleaned from his public statements and actions toward our longstanding ally, Israel. At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House.”
Statement by Rick Perry issued by his campaign -
"The new IAEA report is the latest indicator that the regime in Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. Evidence that this includes work on a nuclear warhead design is particularly alarming – and again puts the lie to Tehran's claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful, energy-related purposes.
"President Obama's policy on Iran, based on outreach and limited sanctions, has failed. This administration has labored under the misconception that Iran's nuclear program could be negotiated away. But the plain truth revealed in the IAEA report is that despite years of negotiations, Tehran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons continues.
"A nuclear-armed Iran would pose grave threats to not only American interests abroad, but also to our security at home. Iranian misconduct has met with little if any response from the Obama administration, and has included targeting Americans in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, supporting terrorist groups, threatening our allies, and even plotting to assassinate a foreign ambassador in Washington, D.C.
"This activity will only increase if Tehran obtains a nuclear weapon and feels it has impunity to act as it pleases.
"Working with our allies, the U.S. should act to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. We must revisit the options President Obama has taken off the table, including tough sanctions on the Iranian Central Bank. And to protect the vital U.S. interests at stake, a responsible commander in chief must be prepared in a worst-case scenario to use military force to destroy key Iranian nuclear sites.
"The U.S. should also act with renewed vigor to support those seeking freedom in Syria, Iran's critical Arab ally, as well in Iran itself, where millions were repressed in 2009 when President Obama tragically ignored the Green Movement to pursue the folly of engagement. Our policy toward the Iranian regime should be based not on hope or on steps that have failed repeatedly, but on thwarting this dangerous regime that pursues nuclear weapons as we help the Iranian people choose their own destiny. Unlike President Obama's failed approach, this would be a realistic and principled policy to keep America safe."