Romney backs away from Hezbollah citation


Mitt Romney’s campaign said Hezbollah was not a proper model for his vision of U.S. diplomacy, addressing a controversy arising from his earlier remarks.

The statement from the campaign for the former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, came in the wake of a weekend town hall meeting in Iowa in which he cited Hezbollah’s social network as a model for reaching hearts and minds.

“Governor Romney believes that bloodthirsty terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas have smothered the progress of the people and nations where they have built their networks, Lebanon serving as an example,” spokesman Kevin Madden said. “These terror organizations cannot and should not be allowed to gain an advantage with the citizenry in Muslim nations just because they mask their terror agenda with an offering of some vital services.”

Romney had made the comparison in explaining why he would expand on President Bush’s AIDS program in Africa, widely regarded as earning goodwill.

“Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so,” Romney said. “That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council slammed Romney for those remarks. “Any candidate for President should know that Hezbollah’s social programs are inseparably tied to terrorism,” it said.

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