JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Moments after reiterating his criticism of the Obama administration for its handling of the diplomatic crisis unfolding in Libya and Egypt, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacked the president on another foreign-policy front, telling supporters at his campaign office in Florida that he couldn’t “imagine ever saying ‘No’ ” to a request for a meeting with the Israeli prime minister.
The comment came a day after the Israeli news media reported that President Obama could not find time in his schedule to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the prime minister travels to the United Nations in New York City later this month.
“I can’t ever imagine, if the prime minister of Israel asked to meet with me, I can’t imagine ever saying ‘No,’ ” Romney said while shaking hands with supporters. “They’re our friends, they’re our closest allies in the Middle East.”
Trying to temper a potential controversy, Obama called Netanyahu on Tuesday evening and the two spoke for over an hour, according to the White House.
“President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward,” the White House said in a statement after the phone call.
The statement also disputed the assertion that the president had refused to meet with Netanyahu, saying that although a meeting in New York could not be arranged, there was “never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied.”
Romney has frequently criticized the Obama administration’s relations with Israel on the campaign trail, recently saying that the president has “thrown Israel under the bus.”
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