Forward Thinking

Mitt's Balancing Act

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney started off his overseas tour on the wrong foot, with a series of gaffes in his first stop in London.

But the presumptive Republican nominee seems well aware of the pitfalls waiting ahead as he reaches Israel on Saturday night.

The main point for Romney is to avoid overtly criticizing President Barack Obama (he wants to adhere to the unwritten rule that partisan politics stops at the water’s edge) while expressing his views loud and clear.

Early reviews are he handled the balancing act well. The key is in the location of the interview.

Romney gave one interview to Israel Hayom on the sidelines of the VFW conference in Reno, Nevada. There, on U.S. soil, he felt free to throw punches at Obama regarding his relations with Israel. “I cannot imagine going to the United Nations, as Obama did, and criticizing Israel in front of the world,” he said. “You don’t criticize your allies in public to achieve the applause of your foes.”

He called Obama’s reference to the 1967 borders “not the right course for America to take” and said Obama “abandoned the freedom agenda” in his dealing with the democratic uprisings in the Arab world.

Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest circulating daily newspaper, is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the top Republican donor who has already poured millions into the Romney campaign. It was a warm and welcoming interview, with plenty of softballs and hardly any tough questions. The Hebrew version of the story, carried on the paper’s front page, stated in bold letters: “an interview with a friend.”

Romney’s second big interview, with Haaretz, was a completely different story.

The Republican candidate met with Haaretz’s columnist Ari Shavit in London, and being overseas, he avoided any direct aim at Obama, even when prompted by the interviewer.

“I have got no comment on President Obama,” Romney said when asked about Obama’s policy of “leading from behind.” He also declined to comment on Obama’s Iran policies.

Romney even invoked the restriction on criticizing the government from abroad when asked on his views about Jewish settlements in the West Bank. “I am afraid that any discussion of settlements would lead me into waters of showing a distance between me and the president. That will not be appropriate for me to do while on foreign soil.”

Of course, the real challenge for Romney still lies ahead, particularly since he has shown himself to be vulnerable to stumbles and verbal gaffes throughout the campaign.

Once arriving in Israel, Romney should expect being pressed time and again to state his views on Obama and to relay his opposition to the President’s policies regarding Israel and the Middle East. That’s what the donors he is gathering in Israel want to hear and that is what Republicans want Jewish voters back at home to notice.

He will have to bring his “A game” to send that message, while keeping in mind he is still beyond the water’s edge.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: mitt romney, israel hayom, israel, interview, haaretz, barack obama

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.