Mitt Romney saved his best line for last.
“I love this country. I love America. I love the friendship and passion we have for the passions which we share," Romney said to conclude his speech Sunday in Jerusalem. "Thank you for your support today. May God bless my country of America, and may he bless and protect the nation of Israel.”
Is Romney trying to emotionally outflank President Obama on the Israel issue?
Obama, of course, has faced persistent questions on what has come to be known as "the kishke issue" — how he feels about Israel in his guts. It’s an issue of which the president is aware, and to which he has tried to respond. (His kishkes, he insists, are kosher.)
Obama has even used the l-word in describing his feelings toward Israel. Back in May, Obama told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg:
I think the idea of Israel and the reality of Israel is one that I find important to me personally. Because it speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus, it describes the history of overcoming great odds and a courage and a commitment to carving out a democracy and prosperity in the midst of hardscrabble land. One of the things I loved about Israel when I went there is that the land itself is a metaphor for rebirth, for what’s been accomplished. What I also love about Israel is the fact that people argue about these issues, and that they’re asking themselves moral questions.
The former U.S. Mideast negotiator Aaron David Miller has been the foremost exponent of the notion that Obama lacks the emotional ties to Israel that some of his predecessors had.
"Unlike his two predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama isn’t in love with the idea of Israel," Miller wrote. "Intellectually he understands and supports the pro-Israeli trope — small democratic nation with dark past confronts huge existential threats — but it’s really a head thing."
In response to another essay touching on this theme by Miller, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf recently made the case that it is preferable for presidents not to have emotional attachments to foreign countries.